The Future Organization LO20554

AM de Lange (
Wed, 3 Feb 1999 10:17:24 +0200

Replying to LO20538 --

Dear Organlearners,

Tricia Lustig <> writes:

>Imagine, no one you have to worry about stabbing you in the
>back when you're not looking (I've worked for a few toxic

Greetings Tricia,

I enjoyed your contribution very much, just like the contribution of
Douglas Max LO20488. Thank you very much both of you.

You refered to a LO (Learning Organisation) with the phrase "no one you
have to worry about stabbing you in the back when you're not looking".
But then you contrasted it with "I've worked for a few toxic
organisations!" I suddenly realised that we can learn a lot about a LO by
making sure what kind of organisation it is not.

Before I contrast a LO with what it is not, we have to think about the
word "learning" in a LO. Is the word used as a noun or a verb? I myself
consider it to be a verb. In other words, the syntax of Learning
Organisation is "verb noun". In other words, it is a "becoming being"
dual. The discipline "systems thinking" (should it not have been "thinking
systems") is another example of a "becoming being" pair. In my systems
thinking such "becoming being" pairs play a very important role. They are
the "linking units" (note, another "verb noun" construction) which
produces and protects the web-like structure of reality.

Up to this contribution, I worked with only constructive "becoming being"
duals. Although I was tacitly aware of destructive "becoming being" duals,
I never have articulated them before. But your use of "toxic
organisations" triggered an avalanche of thoughts in me. Organisations
may not only emerge constructively into Learning Organisations, but may
also immerge destrcutively into "antilearning organisations". Let us
compare a LO to the following "antilearning organisations".

Ignoring organisation.
Ignorance is an antonym for learning. But in lieu of the "becoming
being" pattern we have to call the organisation in which ignorance
prevails an "ignoring organisation". Are there really organisations
which qualify as "ignoring organisations"? Yes. In such organisations
there is a persistent ignoring of things (family, recreation,
spirituality, etc.) essential to a healthy life.

Brutalising organisation.
In such an organisation people are often required to do savage,
beastly and vile things for some short term gains. Organisations often
become brutalising organisations when they renounce morality for some
specific gains.

Stupefying organisations.
In such an organisation the senses and intellect of people are often
dulled in many ways so that they do sottish and foolish things.

I leave it up to fellow learners to extend this list. But I want to warn
against falling into the groove of negative thinking. To prevent this, try
in each case to find how a LO will react to avoid becoming an antilearning
organisation of some kind. For example, to avoid becoming a brutalising
organisation, members of the LO will have to place a high premium on
ethical behaviour, walking their talk. Bear in mind that in each case the
solution has to involve an ordinate bifurcation because the difference
between a LO and an "antilearning" organisation is how they responded to
ordinate bifurcations.

A last note. South Africa had been subjected for almost 50 years to the
ideology of apartheid. Many organisations of all walks of live (political,
economical, social, religious) slowly became "antilearning organisations"
on both sides of the spectrum, pro-apartheid and anti-apartheid. The
hearings before the Truth and Reconcilliation Commision (TRC) uncovered a
most extraodinary behaviour. Most people belonging to any kind of
"antilearning organisation" had no knowledge, not even tacitly, that their
organisation had become to some degree an "antilearning organisation".
People were just not aware that by using their very organisation they were
ignoring, brutalising or stupefying other people. Even worse, the majority
of them believed that because of acting as members of an organisation
rather than as individuals, such "antilearning behaviours" were just not
possible. Thus you can imagine their shock to learn the contrary.

One thing is very clear to me. Should we try to perceive the Future
Organisation, we will have to perceive ordinate bifurcations (emergence or
immergence) along the path to the future.

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

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