Global Processes/Local Issues LO19832

Richard Charles Holloway (
Fri, 13 Nov 1998 09:18:59 -0800

Replying to LO19818 --

thank you for your appreciative inquiry, At--

Two questions occur to me:

Why bother fostering a learning organization if we're not inclined to ask
the organization what it's learned?

Why manage knowledge if we don't ask the knowledge workers what they know?

I believe that there is still a sense of elitism and guardianship in many
organizations and communities...that executives, managers, politicians
believe that their's is the only wisdom, insight and common sense and that
their responsibility and charge is to lead the organization or community
in a direction and with a methodology that is developed or determined by a
select few. In a way, this is ironic because of the wonderful role models
we have of leaders who listen, who ask and who lead people who have
participated in decision-making.

I'd like to assume that there are many people who work and live in their
organizations and communities who display wisdom, insight and common
sense. That when they are asked appropriate questions in a context of
responsibility and stewardship, they can offer creative responses to
organizational and community issues for which they can also accept

I'm not suggesting that managers and owners need to ask for advice and
consent for every decision they make with regards to exercising their
responsibility and authority in being good stewards for their
organizations. However, sometimes the question or issue is so fundamental
(like I think this one is) that asking the organization can be important
to a successful and wise transition.

When a critical transition point faces an organization or community, why
shouldn't the leaders call the community together and ask the meaningful
question? Now, we know that this happens almost daily (I suspect that
Open Space meetings, and other similar forms of inquiry and conversation
occur almost daily) in organizations and communities throughout the world.
But, to many people the idea of participative decision-making and open
conversations is frightening.

I didn't expect anyone to respond to my comment, At, because (a) some
people consider this suggestion as practical or the outcome (if it were
done) as useful, or; (b) some agree with the comment and have nothing to
add or; (c) others simply didn't understand my allusion, or; (d) some
didn't have sufficient interest in the topic. That's the source of my
cynicism. Perhaps this is unfair...there are so many wise and experienced
people involved with this list who are wonderful listeners, and who strive
to understand what others think.

There is a real risk, though, in asking questions within an may receive answers that open the dreaded box of
Pandora, that create a sense of participation, ownership and change far
beyond what is acceptable to the owners, or stock-holders, of an

"Aye, there's the rub," that those in charge might lose the illusion of
power and control and find that they are sharing it with those who they
manage and lead. And that's the real issue.


"The mystery, the essence of all life is not separate from the silent openness
of simple listening." -Toni Parker

Thresholds <> Meeting Masters <> Richard Charles Holloway - P.O. Box 641, Long Beach, WA 98631 Voice 360.642.8487 ICQ# 10849650

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>