Out of Control LO13567

Fri, 9 May 1997 17:03:58 -0500

I have been reading the Learning Organization-Digest for several
months and enjoying the discussions. There have been a number of
discussions about what the most appropriate books are to read in this

The more I think about learning organizations and the issues facing
the adoption of these ideas the more I come back to a book by Kevin
Kelly called Out of Control (The New Biology of Machines. The Rise of
NeoBiological Civilization.) He is the executive editor of Wired
Magazine and possibly the coolest guy on the planet. I read this book
several years ago (before I had ever heard of LO) and have since
bought at least three copies that I have given to friends and
coworkers (I no longer have a copy). He discusses the issues of
networks, complexity and decentralized systems all in an amusing
informative way. He boldly finishes with the Nine Laws of God. You
should look those up yourself (see below).

Being a biologist I immediately connected with his ideas. I would say
his book restructured my thinking about how systems work. We talk
about unwieldly organizations faced with the inertia of the past and
how we struggle to change them. From reading Kevin Kelly it is clear
that the nature of complexity and biology will inevitably result in
the evolution toward LO. Maybe we should relax a little more as we
ride on through to the other side.

The only book that would rank higher than Out of Control would, of
course, be the Tao te Ching.

I am copying Kevin Kelly on this message. Maybe he will respond to
the learning organization discussion.


The entire book is on the internet at:

The central act of the coming era is to connect everything to

A network nurtures small failures in order that large failures don't
happen as often.

We can only get smart things from stupid things.

An event is not triggered by a chain of being, but by a field of
causes spreading horizontally, like creeping tide.

We don't have a word for learning and teaching at the same time, but
our schooling would improve if we did.

Life is a verb not a noun.

The work of managing a natural environment is inescapably a work of
local knowledge.

One can imagine the future shape of companies by stretching them until
they are pure network. It will be hard at times to tell who is working
for whom.

A company cannot be a learning company without also being a teaching

The nature of life is to delight in all possible loopholes. Every
creature is in some way hacking a living by reinterpreting the rules.

Inconsistency is an inevitable trait of any self-sustaining system
built up out of consistent parts.

The quickest route to describing a seed's output is to sprout it.

We cannot import evolution and learning without exporting control.

We are all steering.

When everything happens at once, wide and fast moving problems simply
route around any central authority. Therefore overall governance must
arise from the most humble interdependent acts done locally in
parallel, and not from a central command.

A system is anything that talks to itself.

The work of managing a natural environment is inescapably a work of
local knowledge.

It is the great irony of life that a mindless act repeated in sequence
can only lead to greater depths of absurdity, while a mindless act
performed in parallel by a swarm of individuals can, under the proper
conditions, lead to all that we find interesting.

     James Bender, Ph.D.     |  Scientific Director-Research  
     Immunotherapy Division  |  Baxter Healthcare Corp
     Round Lake, IL, USA     | (847) 270-5433 , fax (847) 270-5406
     <benderj@baxter.com>    | <http://members.aol.com/benderjim/index.htm>
     Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what 
     they sought. (Basho)

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>