My Theory of Organizational Learning LO30801

From: Geof (
Date: 11/24/03

Replying to LO30797 --

Thanks for passing this on, Rick. I found it useful. As far as
feedback, I highlighted the text I found most useful or agreed with
the most.

For what it's worth, this is the first lengthy LO post I have read
from beginning to end in two years.


[Host's Note: Thanks Geof... You highlighted some of the text. Because
the LO distribution is "plain text," I have simply kept the portions
you highlighted and deleted the rest. ..Rick]

----- Geof's Highlighted sections of Rick's Original Message -----

.. snip...
> The Theory Underlying Organizational Learning
> ----------
> 1. People tend to wallow in shallowness. This tends to be a stable
> situation unless and until provoked. Alone, few will rise to serious
> reflection on meaningful issues; for many life is just to be lived.
> There is joy in just going with the flow.
> 2. Most people will rise to seriousness if provoked skillfully.

.. snip ...

> 5. It is more engaging and energizing to figure out something
> yourself than to hear someone else describe their analysis of the
> system and it's dysfunctions. This is true even if that "someone else"
> is an expert whose analysis may be more insightful than your own.
> 6. Capacities (skills, abilities) for learning and for depth are
> missing for many people. These skills can be developed like the way
> muscles can be strengthened. Practice, instruction in specific
> methods, and coaching all help develop these capacities. Reading about
> the theory of doing so has little effect.

.. snip ...

> 6b. There is great joy and energy in learning skills. "The drive to
> learn may be more powerful than the drive to reproduce." (Senge,
> speeches in the mid 90's)

.. snip ...

> 8. Living systems are structurally determined systems (Maturana).
> That is, a wide range of stimuli can cause a living system to make a
> response, but the nature of the response is determined by the internal
> structure of the living system and not by the stimulus itself.

.. snip ...

> 9. Awareness is curative. Or is it? The theory is, once aware of
> something, most human beings tend to address it. Several authors say,
> roughly, "When a gap is identified, people learn to reduce the gap."
> This is a very contentious theory... It is demonstrably untrue in many
> examples, people discover gaps and the gaps are stable. But much work
> in org learning and knowledge management seems based on the theory
> that awareness will be curative. I believe it takes more than
> awareness. I belive it takes awareness, relationships, depth, and
> skills.

.. snip ...

> 9b. There is great joy in creating (Fritz).
> 10. "There is nothing as powerful as a good theory." Daniel Kim and
> (?) Einstein. Also Charles Sanders Peirce. That is, by considering
> our experience in the world, by trying to explain why and how things
> happen, we can create theories of how the world works that help us be
> more effective in the world. This is Senge's "fifth discipline" (the
> discipline itself, not the book).

.. snip ...

> 11a. Leverage... In a few places, a small effort can produce a large
> benefit. This is leverage. The alternatives are brute force (attacking
> everything) or Pareto (making a list of concerns and addressing these
> in priority order.) In my theory, leverage is essential in the modern
> world: we cannot be effective enough by brute force or by Pareto.
> 12. Distributed thinking... People close to the problem have
> essential knowledge that cannot be held at higher levels. Operating in
> a way that engages and harnesses collective wisdom is more powerful
> than top-down, Anthony-style, operation. More powerful than an expert
> model, such as Michael Hammer's reengineering. The Society for
> Organizational Learning includes this point in its Purpose and
> Principles as "Localness."

.. snip ...


"Geof" <>

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