Two years after 9/11 LO30692

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 10/11/03

Replying to LO30677 --

Hello Clyde, Bill, At and other lovers of learning,

As i was more interested in a thread called two years before the big
change - and counting - , i ignored your dialogue until i happened to
browse a message about Model I / II. It should have been called "some
years after I/II", Rick.

There is however a connection between the diabolic (or symbolic) act of
9/11 and all the ones thereafter and Model I / II and the resistance
against change. In my opinion these avalanches of violence and terror are
a result of the tensions being build up by our own innermost fears. We
have a lot to be afraid of (from death to being misunderstood) and the
first reaction is defensive reasoning, trying to bypass it (easing in) or
try to over shout it (forthrightness). The latter ends in acts of terror.
The former too, but less open. There are second and third level
consequence, but i'll bypass them here. After some time we're caught in
cycling between easing in and violence, every where, every place, every

It is -as Chris Argyris wrote - "first, we are being taught, around the
world, that defensive reasoning is humane because it helps us bypass
threat." and "second, as defensive routines become more comprehensive,
..., the less likely (we) will take the risks to overcome (them)". In the
end he concludes that the underlying assumption of science is that truth
is a good idea, but "The underlying assumption of (most) human beings is
that truth is a good idea when it is not threatening." (italics by me).
As i see it, most human activity has to do with reducing anxiety in ways
that stimulate telling the truth - as a fact - and at the same time not
telling your true feelings, which are facts too! In the long run most
people have # lost that lo_oving feeling, oohohoho # .

I think that our fears, the way we deal with treats, make us human beings.
It is not in the way we deal with them (fears, angst, threats), but in the
way we accept, acknowledge or understand them. The funny thing is that the
more we try to reduce threat, by defensive reasoning like imposing
"controls", "manage them", "take insurance", "become stronger, bigger,
better", the larger the threats become. Is there really anybody who
assumes that building a wall will keep the terror out? Of course it will
prevent the small occurrences, but it will only increase the likely hood
of a large one. I've told it before: the only thing the Dutch have learmed
from building defences against the water is larger floods. It is as we,
being scared of the shadows, try to get closer to the lights, only to see
our shadows grow and move faster and more agonysing.

The problem - if any - is - as you seem to point out - that there is no
way you can "manage", "coerce" or even "teach" people to accept their
(negative) feelings and emotions and in the end themselves. We have had
example after example (mr Nelson Mandela and present company included)
that the only way to lead your life right is to lead it right, to be an
example while accepting the fears and anxieties that others won't follow
in your footsteps. You can lead the horse to the water in all possible
ways, but there is no way that will insure that she will drink.

I do not think however that it is possible for a single or a small number
of organizations to make a - lasting - transition from Model I to Model
II. I think it is worse. You either have the basic assumptions ("morale",
"ethics", "mind") that make that you behave in ways that are consistent
with Model I or you cannot act but according to Model II. The only
diffence is that in the latter case you "know" that Model I is a part of
Model II and in the former you assume that Model II is just Model I in a
different disguise. As it has been put - in despair - by the Belgium
writer Louis Paul Boon in the last sentence of his book "My Little War"
(about W.W.II): "You have to keep on kicking people until they have
developed a conscience". The lucky thing is that we're busy kicking
ourselves until we have face the fearful truth: we're all alone.

Another day closer to the great transition, may your fears be with you,

Jan wrote:

>I have found a number of organizations in my time that deplored the very
>negative and abusive manner that was characteristic of Model I
>organizational behavior.
>Some, though, were initially skeptical, but finally agreed to give the
>changes a try.
>IMO, those organizations that resist becoming a Model II organization
>either don't understand what it is, do not trust that as a way of doing
>business, or simply are not ready for that change.
>>I think you and I agree on most everything except the transition. I
>>hear you saying one needs external coercion to move from one attractor
>>to another (using complex adaptive systems terminology), and I
>>acknowledge you may be right, although I really don't think so.
>To clarify, I think that coercion MAY be needed. The leader that decides
>to take his/her organization in this direction needs to fully understand
>why this move is important as well as any other operating parameters that
>apply (speed, cost, etc.)

>>I would state that one can't _commit_ to taking an organization to Model
>>II ("You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," as
>>they say).
>If the organization is ready to move, and has started to make the move,
>there may still be people who resist. In managing resistance, personnel
>moves may result.

Drs J.C. Lelie (Jan, MSc MBA) 
facilitator mind@work

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