Complemetarity LO20025

AM de Lange (
Sun, 29 Nov 1998 18:15:20 +0200

Replying to LO20010 --

Dear Organlearners,

Senthil Kumar < > writes:

>I think Senge's notion of 'system' accommodates the
>'openenss'. In other words, systems are interconnected
>with permeable boundaries.

in reply to my:

>>In my summary of the relationship between the seven
>>"essentialities" and Senge's eleven "essences" of the
>>five disciplines, namely
>> holism => wholeness (monadicity?)
>> interconnectedness => wholeness (associativity)
>>you will notice that nowhere do "wholeness" and "openness"
>>occur together. In other words, in none of these five disciplines
>>is "unfinished complementarity" a main facet. But is really the
>>case? Is Senge sensitive to openness in Systems Thinking?
>>Should he not have listed "openness" as an "essence" also
>>of Systems Thinking?

Greetings Senthil,

Yes, I am inclined to agree with you that the focus should also be on
"openness". But this how we understand Systems Thinking (ST). Maybe Senge
thinks differently today, but unless we have it from himself, we cannot
say that "openness" is an "essence" of ST.

As I have written before, all seven essentialities of creativity are
important in each of the five disciplines. As I see it, the five
disciplines differ from each other in the sense that in each discipline
the focus is on a subset of essentialities.

It is interesting that Senge has listed "openness" as an "essence" of
only one of the five disciplines, namely

>> love of truth => sureness (categoricity)
>> openness => openness (open)

In other words, what we expect to be en "essence" of his ST, is actually
an "essence" of his Mental Models (MM). It makes me wonder if he did not
have some sort of complementarity in mind between ST and MM. Is it not
perhaps the complementarity "INDIVIDUAL philsophy" (for MM) and
"ORGANISATIONAL philosophy" (for ST)? I have used the word philosophy
intentionally because the "love of truth" is the main characterestic of
many a philosopher.

However, the two points which I wanted to make in my contribution
LO19996 are
1) once we recognise WHOLENESS as essential to activities
such as creativivty or learning, then we will become
sensitive to COMPLEMENTARITY (manifoldhood).
2) once we recognise OPENNESS as essential to activities
such as creativivty or learning, then we will become
sensitive to UNFINISHED complementarity.

In my opinion "unfinished complementarity" is very important to both
Systems Thinking and Mental Models. If we merely had "finished
complementarity", then we merely had to study the STRUCTURES (beings)
in ST and MM to find each complementarity (the parts of each whole).
But because of
"unfinished complementarity" , we also have to study the PROCESSES
(becomings) in ST and MM to be able to envisage future parts of a

But see what has happened in the previous paragraph. Once began to think
about "wholeness" and "openness" in activities like creativity and
learning, we will also have to think about the essentiality liveness
("becoming-being"). And as soon as we do that, we enter the discipline

>> being => liveness ("being")
>> generativeness => liveness ("becoming")
>> connectedness => fruitfulness ("connect")

Again, Senge's focus in Personal Mastery (PM) is on three "essences" (or
two "essentialities"). But in reality all seven of them are important. How
do I know it? I have created an authoring system CACTAL (Computer Assisted
Creative Teaching And Learning) for programming CAE (Computer Assisted
Education) lessons. These lessons are intended for PERSONALISED education.
For example, it is possible for the learner to select any one of eight
different learning styles.

I had to create a subprogram for each lesson (program) which I call the
CPS (Creation Processing Structure). It is the task of the CPS in every
lesson to facilitate the MASTERING of the learning objectives in that
lesson. In other words, the CPS guides Personal Mastery. The learner is
asked to do something specific (for example, problem-solving) to
illustrate his/her mastery of an objective. The learner has to type the
result and enter it into the computer. The learner is free to type in
anything. The computer then analyses this result by using the CPS. The CPS
makes use of "leads" to determine all the complementary (systematical,
regular) errors in the learner's response. When a "lead" finds a
complementary error, it informs the learner about the error, thus setting
up a feedback loop. Obviously, since the learner can type in anything, the
learner may make errors for which the CPS cannot provide. These errors are
called "irregular" errors. The CPS can identify them, but cannot identify
any specific error in them as in the case of complementary errors.

In creating these leads, I had to make use of the seven essentialities. A
lead ususally employs one or two essentialities to "look" for a certain
systematical error. All the leads used in one single CPS instantiation
usually account for all seven essentialities. It is easy to delete from a
certain CPS instantiation all the leads which have to do with a certain
"essence" or "essentiality". (The programming technique is to "comment"
them.) Thus the full complementarity of the CPS is destroyed. However, the
nightmare begins when the learner tries to master an objective when only
one "essence" or "essentiality" has been suppressed. The learner will
then get vague, inappropiate and conflicting feedback messages.

Why do commercial lesson authoring systems do not provide for "freely
created responses"? Perhaps one reason is that they know nothing about the
"eleven essences of a LO" or the "seven essentialities of creativity". But
perhaps the reason is something else, namely a lack of creativity on
behalve of the lesson author. People expect from programmed applications
to provide ready made templates for all their needs. In a CBT (Computer
Based Training) lesson the well known "multiple choice question" or the
"fill in question" are examples of responses for which a ready made
template can be provided. Fill in the details for the template and you
have a ready made response analyser.

But this is CBT, not CAE. Whereas in "training" (CBT) the template
provides for a fixed complementarity, (for example, one right choice, four
wrong choices), in "education" (CAE) the mastering is unfinished UNTILL
such time that the learner has proven his/her mastery of the objective.
When the learner (still not yet having mastered the objective) enters the
result, the CPS uses lead after lead to identitify an error of the
complementarity. Should a lead detect one of the complements, it
immediately provides a feedback without running through the rest of the
leads. (It does not finish the complementarity.) Furthermore, and just as
important, the sequence of leads have to be carefully designed by the
TEACHER (and not programmer). The teacher must know exactly what the
mastering of any specific objective entails. The teacher must know every
possible thing which can go wrong when mastering that objective. The
teacher must be able to think in terms of unfinished complementarities
(wholeness and openness).

I have now constructed many hundreds of such CPS instantiations. The most
remarkable thing for me is that for freely created responses, it is
impossible to provide a ready made fixed template for the CPS, i.e a fixed
or closed Structure of leads Processing Creativity. I am now convinced
that when creativity enters the picture, even the teacher+learner form a
complementary dual (twofoldhood). It is impossible to expect creativity
from the one (learner or teacher), but not from the other (respectively
teacher or learner). That is why the name of my authoring system is
"cacTal" ("computer assisted creative TEACHING and learning").

The above concerns the Personal Mastery of a Learning Individual. But what
about the Team Learning of a Learning Organisation? Well, we now have to
think of multiple complementarities (manifoldhoods) rather than
complementary duals (twofoldhood such as teacher+learner). In terms of the
"essences" of Senge we have to think of

>> collective intelligence
>> alignment

Thus his "essence" alignment points to the various multiple
complementarities (manifoldhoods) and enduring fruitfulnness in each of

Best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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