Work with Unity in Diversity LO30828

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 12/02/03

Replying to LO30809 --

Dear Organlearners,

Rick Karash <> wrote in the
Subject: My Theory of Organizational Learning LO30809

>In my work, learning is an increase in the capacity for
>effective action, and organizational learning is about
>collective capacity. So I'm more interested in how well
>a group works together than I am in how differences
>get resolved. But, this deserves more dialogue.

Greetings dear Rick,

Your use of the word "works" rather than "learns" made me realise that
a most important "feature" of a diverse organisation or society have
been touched upon.

In 1963 I attended a course on Principles and Methods given by prof
Henk Stoker for all first year university students. That was at a time
when the ideology and policy of Apartheid was at its zenith -- people
from Eurpean decent claimed superiority and thus "right of manner of
work" over people from African or Asian descent. During the course he
often used the phrase "Unity in Diversity". It made me think for the
first time that something was wrong with Apartheid.

At the end of the year i discussed this "Unity in Diversity" with my
dear late father in connection with Apartheid. He was heavily upset,
thinking that i was giving up on my own European heritage by seeking
collaboration with people from other cultures. He was of opinion that
this collaboration would eventually let the differences disappear. It
took me many years to convince him that it was not the case.

In 1994 Apartheid was dismantled. Yet all the cultural differences
still remain as before. After ten years many of us are now searching
for ways how to work together despite the cultural differences. In
other words, we are searching strategies how to make "Unity in
Diversity" work in all our organisations. Importing strategies from
other parts of the world do not always work.

For example, people from African descent have imported "Affirmative
Action" from the USA as their major strategy to establish "Diversity
in Unity". However, it also caused other problems rather than solving
the problem of "Work with Unity in Diversity". For example, the gap
between the few rich and the many poor have increased among all
peoples from African, European and Asian descent whereas during
Apartheid the few rich were found mostly among people from European
descent. There were also few poor among them.

I have decided to change the subject from "My Theory of Organizational
Learning" to "Work with Unity in Diversity". By this change i want to
focus on what is necessary to let "Work with Unity in Diversity"
succeed. "Organizational Learning" is one condition. But is it the
only condition to take heed to? I do not think so. But let us see
whether a LO-dialogue would uncover other conditions also necessary.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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