Systems Thinking vs Belief? LO19948

Terry Priebe (
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 12:38:40 -0500

Replying to LO19788 --

Winfried, good morning:

You wrote on Nov 10th (sorry, I'm just now catching up with my LO mail):

" The interesting part in this whole thread and on this list as such is that
I perfectly well understand and agree with At's and other's contributions.
I often agree wholehearted. But what puzzles me is the returning pattern
of increased complexity in all these subjects and threads. The invention
of new 'conceptual frameworks' with supreme high levels of abstractism.
Why? To what purpose? What objective is served? To who's benefit? To be
honest, there is little news on this list. It often is a re-phrasing of
what has been said many hundred times before, in just slightly different
ways or in complete different language and vocabulary, also by me. But
what fascinates me and keeps me reading and contributing to this list is
the fact that it newer stops! I am always amazed that somebody has managed
again to re-phrase the obvious. What it gives me though, is better
understanding, appreciation and respect for the person behind the words.
It also confirms my belief that learning to read and speak a particular
language is unavoidable if one wants to survive, live, and be respected in
a specific culture. But aren't we contributing to a new Babylon if we keep
on inventing new vocabularies to rephrase the obvious? "

As part of a group developing systemic learning system products, your
comment really struck home. My personal situation seem to be one of
"catch up": as you say - many, if not most, of the ideas have been said
before in a variety of languages or ways - some I'm quite comfortable with
and fully understand. However, I haven't coexisted with many of these
ideas in whatever form they took in their prior life and, therefore,
they're not obvious to me. In my view, they're new "news" and have the
power of interacting with my tacit knowledge in ways quite different than
someone who finds the same ideas old news. In fact, I needed that
restatement or representation to become aware of the idea.

Am I derelict in my behavior for not knowing? I don't think so. My life
path has just not provided a prior understanding or awareness. Maybe I
could have done something to have prevented or improved my condition;
maybe not. I hope I don't feel guilty for finding myself in that position;
but on becoming aware of a particular event or class of events, I might
(should) reflect on my priorities or behavior and modify to be more alert
and knowing.

Then, following your and my frustration, the question is: how we might
deal with ideas and information, particularly in groups of people - such
as the LO list - to keep news fresher and pertinent for everyone?

At de Lange on 11/18 (Measuring Organizational Learning LO19908) talked
about the cyclical occurrence of a problem ( I guess we could substitute
"idea" here, as well ). He said there were two reasons for this cyclical

1. The ablative immergence of existing emergents.
2. The repetitive pushing towards bifurcations for a new order to occur.

He then went on and talked about the five elementary sustainers of

1. Problem-solving
2. Dialogue
3. Game-playing
4. Exemplar-studying
5. Art-expressing

Now, I'm no expert in the completeness or even correctness of what At has
said. However, it "feels" right in my experience - I've experienced or
know of first-hand observation of each of these sustainers.

Having followed and participated, as possible, in the LO list since
February, I personally sense a spiraling of insight about a lot of topics.
I am helped in this by a combination of the five sustainers, repeated and,
sometimes, overly repeated for me.

I've come to appreciate the process of the list, in that I can link up
when I can and continue on this spiraling, emerging (and sometimes
immerging) path. I have also come to recognize how important it is for the
mentoring, the patient retelling of stories, and the open reflections that
create new spins on the same ideas. Sometimes the exact same path given my
off-line experiences will result in an extraordinary insight. Much like
the Parables of the New Testament in the Bible.

Am I unusual in how I'm affected by this process? I doubt it. From what I
see, the trick is to have the right kind of "inspiration" in the right
form at the right place and time so I can benefit from it.

As we in my company contemplate the effective, long-term implementation of
learning system products, such as the Business Learning Platform (
background available at ), the concerns you
voiced need to be at the forefront of our thinking. ( We hit 4 our of 5 of
the sustainers, by the way, and are intrigued by the fifth ) Likewise, I
would like to be more personally aware how my own behavior and actions
affect the ability of others to "emerge" and then to act accordingly.

As a final thought, had I not been able to have read At's 11/18
contribution first, my attempt to convey the interrelated ideas would not
have been possible.

Thanks for listening and your 11/10 posting.

Terry Priebe
Decision Support Associates, Inc.


"Terry Priebe" <>

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