Two years after 9/11 LO30726

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 10/19/03

Replying to LO30704 --

Dear lo-community, At,

"Nothing to learn here. Please move on. Nothing to learn here", you
can hear the politicians say after every terrorist attack. And
terrorist have nothing to teach either. Power and learning have two
completely different attitudes towards dealing with fear. It is no
coincedence that the word terrorist has at its root "terror": fear.
But we know from Machiavelli that the prince - the politician was
formerly known as Prince - also relies on fear. I would say that
learning moves towards fear - your own fears of making mistakes and
worse - and power moves away from it - trying to "protect us from
fear". Organizations - as an expression of grouping - are also based
on moving away from our own fears - or so i assume - because a group
provides shelter against the night and animals. These fears are then
projected on to other groups. There might also be a link with
religions as they seems to provide an external being that can take
away some of our fears surrounding death. That gives me a clue why
religions have an ultimate truth: it links nicely with Argyris
statement that we want to know, to tell the truth as long as it
won't be painful. Basically organisations have been designed to
detect and correct errors before they happen. Making errors is
considered "wrong", most strongly seen in the USA with its extensive
legal system of paying for damages.

I agree with you that Model 2 Theory in Use is some how connected
with learning organizations, but i do maintain that learning
organization is a contradictio in termines. Organizational learning,
coined by Argyris, is more approriated. But i'll let it rest for the

I do not agree on your "solution" to make a horse drink. Firstly, it
is not a big problem - most horses will drink. Secondly, regarding
learning (drinking from the source of knowledge), the attitude of
the leader does matter when one wants people - or horses - to accept
their own emotions and fears. I've been with a powerful teacher and
i know for sure that the only one who can decide whether i will
learn (and change) is myself. As it happened i had been standing
near the water for some years and might even have drowned. Also the
change is a change for its own sake - another problem with learning
organizations, were learning is for the sake of the organization.
That's why in my case i'm convinced that one has to be primed or
predestined or lucky or graced to be able to learn Model 2 Theory in
Use. If its not in your mental build up, you'll never learn.

Have to attend some business, i'll be back, take care


AM de Lange wrote:

>At the beginning of the year i did a lot of reading on the the events of
>9/11. What struck me is that so much of it could have been prevented if
>more of the organisations involved were acting according to Argyris' Model
>II rather than Model I. This Model II is for me somewhat the description
>of a LO (Learning Organisation).
>>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
>>You can lead the horse to the water in all possible ways, but there
>>is no way that will insure that she will drink.
>So much of what you have written above is true. But i have found a way to
>let the "horses drink". First, make sure that as many as possible follow
>you all the way up to the water. Then, tell them that to drink or not to
>drink is their choice and nobody else's. But most important of all, make
>sure to tell them that you will use nothing of what happened in the past
>will be used against them when they decided to drink AND make sure that
>you keep your word! (It makes me think of the other on going topic --
>Reconcilliation and Forgiveness.)
>>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.
>I think somewhat differently. It is indeed extremely difficult for a Model
>I organisation to transform into a Model II one. But it can be done. It
>requires a leader with enough insight and patience to prepare that
>organisation for such a transition. The preparation may take several
>years. During that preparation very little of a gradual transformation can
>be seen. Then, sudddenly, when it comes to the clench, the actual
>transition happens surprisingly fast.
>Jan, you wrote: "..until we have face the fearful truth: we're all alone."
>This is crucially in any bifurcation -- you are alone and what happens to
>you depends on you and you alone. It has to do with openness.
>>Another day closer to the great transition, may your fears
>>be with you,

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

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