Practice in At's Emergent Learning (1) LO17441

Winfried Dressler (
Tue, 17 Mar 1998 12:15:30 +0100

Dear Learners,

It is now a week ago that I suggested to learn some more about At de
Langes seven essentialities. Meanwhile I got a lot of encouraging mails to
proceed with this issue, so I hope for not only eager listeners (of course
you are very welcome as well) but also for many contributions sharing
experiences with whatever you understand to be "emergent learning" -
either success or failure.

And I got some suggestions, also from Rick and At, on how to deal with
this subject and it may be helpful to make some of them explicit here:

Let's look at the subject line: "Practice in At's Emergent Learning (1)":

- We are going to exchange on emergent learning within the frame of At's

- We seek for new insight in our own past and present experiences and
want to see how At's frame can help to overcome certain restrictions to
create a bigger or smaller "Aha!" while connecting unrelated aspects of
our life to gain a more whole picture of ourself and our environment.

- Thus we need some guided practice. This means for this media to share
some specific experiences - to offer them as material for case studies -,
to get the response of other participants and to listen to At's comments
which he promised to make as he feels they may be helpful - dialogue -. We
may also find or get suggestions for tasks to work on that might help

- By the time we may gain some understanding of what the seven
essentialities are about and how they interact to enable emergences to

-The skill to manage complexity will be a discipline in the meaning Senge
assigned to it: Something you may improve but you never will be good
enough to say "I reached the goal".

- "1": I hope this thread will accompany us for a while. From time to
time we will notice that we proceed to a new chapter. The number is just a
count for such chapters and should facilitate a review later or to refer
to earlier chapters.

With the subject line, I also have excluded discussions on the validity of
At's framework. Here we just agree to the assumption that there is gold in
it and that it is worth the time to work it out. One wouldn't perform a
crash test on a model under const ruction to check its robustness would

This does not mean to exclude such discussions or debates or whatever from
the list at all. I just request for giving them their own subject line.
And please avoid to use material from our learning effort here, especially
related to a reported personal experience. Please take care of the
feelings of those who openly share their world with us. I am sure Rick
will have an eye on this.

And now, let us get the whole thing started!

One issue I believe that most of us have a whole variety of experiences
with, reaching from deep frustration to great success, is the process of
applying for an employment. This should provide a lot of material to study
our subject.

For the beginning, I offer my own first experiences with this as raw
material for a case study. Let us call it for later reference

CASE STUDY "EMPLOYMENT" (Material from Winfried):

This is the way, I got my first employment after having studied physics at
university. After my exams, I was very frustrated. I did not know what to
do with this education, I didn't see myself as a researcher and I didn't
want to become a computer programmer as well. Being the son of a pastor
and teacher, I had no connection to business world. I had just married -
the only thing I was sure about (and still am).

Fortunately, I had some time to think about my future: I had to spend 14
months ("Zivildienst" in Germany, as alternative to the prescribed
military sercive) working in a big hospital. For a few months I didn't
pick up the hot iron of working towards an employment. Then my
father-in-law visited us and forced me to think about my/our future (my
wife was pregnant at that time). He did it in a great manner: Not saying
"you ought to do something" (which I knew very well myself) but "lets see,
what you are good for, lets find what you really want to do." It gave me a
kick. Yet I didn't like the result of what I now know was just a first
shot, it was completely unsatisfying, it wasn't me. I saw, that the
content was mainly dictated by my father-in-law. Although it was a good
guess, it didn't really fit.

Then on one weekend, I did it on my own. I said to me: "I must start
writing letters of application now!" I bought one copy of the newspaper
with most vacancies and studied them. I categorized the "marked demand",
and found that "technical sales" sounds good to me. I wrote letters to the
two most interesting offers.

Both invited me. The first invitation was the less interesting
fortunately, it was my first experience and I made horrible mistakes. My
target was to get an offer for the job, so that I could decide whether I
really want it or not. I didn't get the job, but valuable lessons in
understanding the expectations of the employer, his point of view. The
second opportunity was perfect for me, and I got the employment - it was
the german representative in a newly founded Joint Venture in Japan (I
grew up in Japan for 10 years) for a high tech company (Lasers). But
before starting I had first to finish my Zivildienst.

During the last months of Zivildienst, my first son was born. He had some
deformaties of his head, and it could be taken for granted, that he will
be heavily handicaped. (Becoming the father of this son is another story.
It took exactly 12 hours from birth through dispair to loving him with all
might.) This questioned the adventure of moving to Japan. Also, the salary
seemed to be quite low, compared to the high rents for even small
apartments (western style) there.

I started to ask big companies to tell me their conditions for employees
they send to Japan. One of them asked me, that when I want to go to Japan
some day, why I do not apply for an employment with them. This was the
company where I finally started. Before making the decision, I wrote
letters of applications to those companies, which were big enough to have
germans working for them in Japan and which were willing to employ
beginners who studied physics - it were 12 companies, which met these
criterions. I got 8 invitations of which I could realize 5 before I had to
decide among 3 offers.

What makes a company to employ a frustrated physicist for technical sales?
Is some japanese background sufficient? Surely not. To be convincing
without lying, thus being myself, this "myself" had to change before. I
discovered, why I actually studied physics and what in physics I liked:
Thinking in complex systems conceptually. So I started selling myself by
saying: "I don't know much of business (they could see it from my vita).
But I expect business to be a complex system. I'd love to learn about it
by moving in it. I am not an economist, so I can't take the controllers
position, but I believe that technical sales is a great place to learn
about the complex network within the company and to the customers." It was
convincing. And it still convinces me, and until now I have moved the
conceptual path from sales over marketing to strategy today.

Looking forward to a lot of good communications and learning.

Liebe Gr|_e


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