Yes, but does LO work? LO18976

Richard Goodale (
Wed, 26 Aug 98 10:32:15 GMT

Replying to LO18961 --


A very interesting post. Some comments below.

> I've reread your posting LO 18908 and the one below. What occurs to me,
> and particularly after your comment on Senge's lack of real world
> examples, is that LO principles are a product of the desire of individuals
> to find meaning, purpose, integrity and enjoyment in their work within
> organizations. The assumption is that it will improve the organization as
> a functioning body. But the core of the LO is really about how to live a
> fulfilling human life in the midst of a modern, complex, hierarchical
> organization. Maybe...

Maybe not.... Some, including myself, see the LO principles as guides for
organisational development, i.e. a roadmap for the teachers as well as the
learners. From this point of view, they are "really" about "how to HELP
YOURSELF AND OTHER PEOPLE live a fulfilling human life in the midst of a
modern, complex, OFTEN hierarchicial WORLD." I (we?) come at these issues
from the perspective that change only really occurs when it is embraced at
the top of an organisation.

> Is Senge lacking in real world examples because at the time of the writing
> of his book, his message was the call of a prophet in the desert? I note
> that since then he has published an article about "communities of
> commitment." Community is a descriptive term for how human beings
> congregate. It isn't specifically about how products are developed, made,
> distributed and sold. I use it in my leadership development work as both
> a diagnostic metaphor for getting at the relationship within a team or
> organization, and a different way to describe the collaborative nature of
> organizational leadership.

I don't personally think that Senge is or was any sort of major prophet.
IMHO, the great majority of what he said in the Fifth Discipline was old
stuff repackaged in a new way (this is not necessarily a criticism, even
some of the best stuff in the bible, e.g. " not do to others." is a
straight lift from the Greeks and/or Confucius).

> Even without real world examples, I think his book resonates with people
> because it captures their longings and aspirations. Maybe it is time, as
> a LO list, to return to some of the basic principles contained in Senge's
> book. We just might discover some new aspect that our prior experience
> had not prepared us to see, that now we can.

This is a good idea. Why don't we try to "backcast," as economists say,
to see if the implementation of LO principles in the past by real
organisations has led to greater organisational performance and/or
individual fulfillment?

> Finally, while the Fifth Discipline may be thin on real world examples,
> the Field Book is filled with them. Question for the list: How have you
> used the Field Book to implement LO principles?

My quick re-skimming of the Fieldbook tells me that most of the examples
are project-specific. That LO principles can improve project performance
is good. However, I would be far more impressed to see examples where
performance continuously improves, from project to project, from
deapartment to department, endlessly and seamlessly. That's what my ideal
of a Learning Organisation might look like.

Thanks for your thoughts. Cheers.


Richard Goodale
Managing Partner
The Dornoch Partnership
"Discovery, Creativity, Leadership"


Richard Goodale <>

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