Followership a criterion for LO? LO16569

Mnr AM de Lange (
Wed, 14 Jan 1998 16:30:01 GMT+2

Replying to LO16469 --

Dear organlearners,

Dianne Ball <> writes:

> Hello to OL'ers. I've recently joined the group & have followed recent
> discussions with interest. The following comment from At made me stop in
> my tracks:
> > Is "strong followership" a prerequisite for an organisation to become a
> > LO, or is it one of the most valuable outcomes of an LO? (For me it is a
> > criterium by which I decide if an organisation is a LO.)

Dianne, your idiomatic phrase "made me stop in my tracks" makes me
happy for many reasons. One of them is that Don Dwiggins
<> began the thread "Help with an emergence"
by asking:
> At, could you present a case study of an emergence for us, to help
> us along the birth canal? I'm thinking of a description that starts
> with a system near equilibrium, traces its growing chaos to the
> bifurcation point, and shows how the essentialities worked to create
> the emergence.

With your permission I will use your contribution as another case study
for Don's benefit. Please forgive me for what now may appear to be hubris
- it is definitely not intended as such. I also realise that you and
others may feel nothing for "self-organising dissipative systems". In that
case, skip the rest of this contribution immediately.

By using the phrase "made me stop in my tracks" a person often articulates
that he/she is becoming aware of an ensueing bifucation which will result
in either an emergence or an immergence.

A bifurcation will only appear if enough extra entropy is produced fast
enough. Please note that we have to think about "entropy production"
(dissipation) as one concept. This concept differs much from the concept
"entropy" itself.

My remark has definitely produced entropy. Entropy has to be produced by
force-flux pairs. At least one pair is required. If only one pair is
available, both the force and the flux must be very large to produce
enough entropy fast enough for a bifurcation point to appear. In this case
the force is the contrast between some statement of mine and some
statement coming from your own mind. The flux is the sequence of
inferences which resulted from this force.

This produced entropy has to be manifested as "chaos of becoming" before
the bifurcation (and as "order of being" after the bifurcation). Now let
us try to observe this chaos of becoming.

You write about one becoming:

> At first
> glance this concept seems to me to be at adds with LO principles without
> further clarification; perhaps followership of values and common
> philosophy is required - but this seems to be another way of describing
> the mental models of Senge.

Then you write about another becoming:

> My understanding of the implications of being a LO (and I state at the
> outset that I am a novice in this area, albeit a quick learner) is that
> the organisation has the 'freedom' to set its direction, strategies &
> practices according to the prevailing environment. I don't see that
> strong followership/leadership is desired in these areas but I do see how
> it is relevant for strengthening the mindset or shared mental models.

There seems to be no consistency and coherency between these two
becomings. Thus you have clearly demonstrated this chaos of becoming. You
have even articulated it with your next sentence (questions can be used as

> Is this the intention of the statement?

But you have progressed even further. You have articulated the
approaching bifurcation with the following sentence.

> How do others see the relationship between leadership/followership & the
> LO?

Why does it articulate a bifurcation? By posing this question, you admit
(as a learner) that the answer to it will (hopefully) emerge in other
persons. (By posing the question as a teacher, you do something else - you
intend to produce entropy with it.) By not answering this question, you
may have admitted that you really do not know the answer. In that case it
means that either the answer has not yet emerged or that the answer will
not emerge. If the answer has not yet emerged, then step up the entropy
production - KEEP ON QUESTIONING YOURSELF. If the answer will not emerge,
then an immergence is the only other outcome.

If I answer this question for you, then I will deprive you of a wonderful
opporunity to learn emergently.

I did actually answer this question, but in terms of my paradigm which is
different to yours. Since the paradigms are different, you were not able
to recognise it as an answer. But this does not mean that you will
recognise the answer when our pardigms are the same. The answer should
also have emerged previously within you to recognise it.

Now let us assume that you will create the answer through your own
emergent learning and that it will happen in terms of a paradigm different
from mine. Will you then be able to recognise my answer? No. But if you
have also have learned how to communicate your theories and mental models
fluently by using a geat variety of metaphors for each one of them, you
will recognise my answer.

Why are the last two paragraphs about paradigms end emergences? I suspect
in terms of what you have written that you really do not know the answer.
An answer to such an original question requires emergent learning.
Obviously, I may be on the wrong track. But if we could set up a dialogue
between the two of us, I will definitely make sure which track are we

I will also make sure if the entropy production's manifestation as chaos
of becoming before the bifurcation has been driven to saturation. I will
ask you questions. Your answers will give me the clue. If they represent
an increase in chaos of becoming, there is still no saturation and hence
no bifurctaion. If there is no increase in chaos of becoming, then it
gives me a clue to two possible things.

Firstly, you may already be at the bifucation (saturation) point which
means that I have to proceed very carefully in slowly producing little
extra entropy with my questions. I will do so to avoid damaging your
bircation into an immergence. Thus my questions will be very mild, often
about seemingly unrelated things. But with each one I will try to fathom
the status of the seven essentialities within your mind. If no one appears
to be impaired, then you can "give birth" to the answer yourself. I have
learnt not to tamper with functional self-organising systems.

Secondly, you may still not be close to the bifurcation point. Then it
means that you cannot create the extra entropy yourself fast enough to get
to that point. However, I will never create that entropy myself in order
to inundate you with it up to the saturation point. Why? Because if I do
so, an immergence rather than an emergence will happen. Why? One or more
of the seven essentialities were definitely impaired so that an immergence
will definitely happen.

Why am I so sure of an impaired essentiality? Because the seven
essentialities are also necessary to produce the entropy yourself! Thus I
will try to find out which essentialities are not mature enough for the
specific situation at hand (entropy production and emergence).

I am now ready to answer why I brought paradigms and emergences into the
discussion. One of the seven essentialities is what I call "paradigm-open"
(freeness). I suspect in terms of the words which you use and the things
to which you refer to that this essentiality may be impaired within your
mind. How?

Well, I have to go back to Peter Senge as you also did. He described five
disciplines as necesarry/essential to learn more about the learning
organisation. I do not wish to equate anyone of these disicplines with one
or more of the essentialities because they are completely different
things. But I find it most extraordinary that in each discipline Senge use
certain words which points to one or two essentialities being central to
that discipline for him. (Please note that all seven are essential to each
discipline. Also please note that at the time when his book was published
these essentialities were not yet made known.) These correspondences are
as follows:

discipline essentiality
----------- -------------
system thinking "associativity-monadicity" (wholeness)
"quality-variety" (rangeness)
personal mastery "identity-categoricity" (sureness)
mental models "paradigm-open" (freeness)
shared visions "associativity-monadicity" (wholeness)
"connect-beget" (fruitfulness
team learning "associativity-monadicity" (wholeness)
"connect-beget" (fruitfulness)

(Note that wholeness occur in three of them. Thus we infer that Senge
might be a holistic thinker. Also note that the essentiality
"quantity-limit" is absent in the list. This has to be expected. This
essentiality is seldom formalised in the humanities whereas
"associativity-monadicity" is seldom formalised in the pysical sciences!)

You will notice that my assosiation of mental models with paradigm-open
and your preoccupation with mental models allow me to suspect that all is
not well with the essentiality "paradigm-open". But I may also be
comletely wrong. Further probing is necessary.

I can use one of four creativity templates to do this probing. One of them
is the dialogue, highly recommended by Senge. A dialogue is extremely free
flowing, as Senge notices. Another creativity template is the case
(exemplar) study. I found this template much more effective when I have to
program computer assisted lessons in which the learner's emergent learning
and digestive learning are essential. (The third and fourth templates are
tasks and games.) That is why I could not resist in making your question a
case study!

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

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