Is it alive? LO16419

Tom Christoffel (
Sun, 4 Jan 1998 23:18:57 -0500

Replying to LO16372 --

Note: Reference URL on "role of metaphor and pattern in relation to
governance" at end of post.

Hi - LO:

Whether or not organizations are alive has been discussed at great length
with no clear conclusion. They aren't organisms. The English language
wouldn't have generated two words if one would do. I don't think life is
limited to organisms. Further, I suggest that whether something has lived
can be measured by the impact of its demise termination. Do organizations
die? Is there grieving when they pass?

To this, question my experience votes yes. Organizations that provide a
paycheck to people and, often a large portion of their personal identity,
do die. People grieve.

An organism which has sustainability over generations or aspires to that,
does live in an economic sense, and its support life - individuals,
families, communities - by the provision of wages, services and

Organizations can also have near death experiences - almost going out of
business, as I expereinced in my own organization. In my field of work,
regional planning, I am radical compared to my peers for this reason. We
almost went out of business when member governments dropped out in 1983.
When I became the director I re-oriented our organization to that of
serving local governments. My boss, the first director believed the
mission was that the Planning District Commission was to lead local
governments. That wasn't going to happen because the Commission members
did not see or understand the regional approach. After 14 years, having no
tax base, we still could die. Thus, I'm constantly trying to learn how to
keep us in business and looking at business rather than governmental

On the subject of metaphor - check this site:

"Since the early 1980s the Union of International Associations has been
exploring the role of metaphor and pattern in relation to governance,
understanding of world problems, articulation of more appropriate
organizational strategies, transformative conferencing and dialogue, and
knowledge organization. This research work has been presented at a number
of international meetings. Many documents are available from this site.

"Various aspects of the work has been presented in the Encyclopedia of
World Problems and Human Poterntial. Commentary documents (38), accessible
from this site, are listed in a Commentary Index."

The home page is:
Thomas J. (Tom) Christoffel * TJCdesigns * E-mail: *
Box 1444 * Front Royal, Virginia (VA) 22630-1444 *
"Design with re-use in mind. Peace Dynamic' !"


Tom Christoffel <>

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