Systems Thinking and Personality Types LO22573

J.C. Lelie (
Fri, 03 Sep 1999 20:29:43 +0200

Replying to LO22543 --

Hello At,

Thank you for your kind words.

> What you have said is true.


> But there is also a hidden paradox in it for that group who does not
> divide people into two groups. By not dividing people into groups, they
> distinguish (not divide) themselves from the people who divide people into
> groups. By creating such a distinction, they may supply fuel which the
> group (who groups people) will use for their own fire.

Life itself takes paradoxides. Paradoxigen supplies the fuel, the energy,
dass Eksistenz. We kindle, burn, enlight, shine, simmer and glow
paradoxically (in my case paradoxicallily). Altough, Feynman seems to have
said: 'the paradox is only a conflict between reality and your feeling of
what reality ought to be'.

How many groups do we have? You and me and {you and me} makes three! or 2!
Add a third person and we have 6 different groups, 3! I have learned that
our limit for handling groups effectively is 5 persons. In that case we're
dealing with 60 groups, 5!

> Thinking of each person as an unique indivdual AND as a common human helps
> me to avoid judgements. It is more important to me to avoid judgements
> than to avoid difficult and complex ways of doing things. Why do we want
> to group people? Is it not to do things easier and simpler? Is it not
> difficult and complex to avoid judgement when grouping people?

Judging/perceiving is one of the MBTI-orientations. Some people prefer
judging, they value closure, clear limits, simplicity and try to do things
the right way. Other people prefer perceiving, value spontaneity,
flexibility, complexity and try to make some fun. I know i prefer to
perceive, but sometimes envy people who can make fast judgements. I think
we cannot avoid do both, both are as important, depending on the


> It is very much like any theory of evolution. All the theories
> of evolution has two parts:

<snip - have to think about these angles>

> In other words, every person is like a unique word to me and humankind the
> language to which that word belongs. Knowing the word without knowing the
> language is impossible. Knowing more than one language (not only humans,
> but also other kinds of organisms) is a great advantage. But trying to
> know the word by dividing the language into sublanguages (dialects) and
> then placing the word in some dialect is often the cause of severe
> language conflicts. The same happens when working with people as
> personality types.

Well, nice metaphore, altough I would rather say: every person is a
language. We all have the ability to learn a language, words, grammar -
isn't paradigm another word for grammar? - and in interactions we
negotiate meaning of words, using a consensually validated grammar.
Sometimes we encounter very judicious people, like Humpty Dumpty who pays
his words for their meaning, sometime we encounter very easy going people,
who will even invent words and languages. Everybody has his or hers
dialect (do i hear dialog?).

Like personality types, we prefer certain words and constructions in
language. I like to visualize, you see - and construct long sentences.
Others write short bits. Must write seriously.

Conflicts are inevitable, every process will grow and grow until it meets
resistance, the limits of growth, conflicts with other processes - what
have you. The diagram of relations in Systems Thinking models ends with
all kinds of conflicts: accidental advisaries, tragedy of the commons.

I think it is the other way around: we have a conflict - perhaps not yet
conciously - and on both sides of the line we start to develop different
languages. Because we do not talk any more, the languages start to differ,
we start differentiating more and in the end, language is part of the
problem. Perhaps it is the tower of Babel that fueled the tremendous
development of people. Because we became dispersed, we developed different
languages, learned to think and create new cultures. Every day we pay the
price of theses benefits: war, famine, fights, violence.


> I differ from you. There is nothing simple in the design of, for example,
> any living cell.


Please don't let me be misunderstood, i'm just a simple soul who's
intention are good: i agree with you about the complexities in nature.
Yes, i think that every being is unique, complexity arises from
repeatingly repeating the same rule. From the vibrating quantum mechanical
strings to the big bang of the universe and us inbetween: only a few
different energies, entropy and a few laws and - most probably - the
absolute minimum for life to appear. Ockam's razor, so to say.

> It is not nature which likes simple designs. Nature has no classification
> scheme. It is humans (perhaps all of them) who likes simple designs and
> who never stops offering new classification schemes so as to, hopefully,
> simplify their designing of things.

Perhaps, yes and no. Sometimes we classify in order to simplify, to
reduce. I like classification that give rise to complexity, not to design
things, but to be able to talk and think about them and appriciate their
beauty, seeing new side of things.

> All organisms, other than humans, which I have encountered in my life,
> never, never showed any preferance to a simpler way of life or finding a
> simpler way of doing things. The next grand paradigm shift in human
> thinking is looming. Should we not think in this new paradigm like the
> rest of nature is creating? Should we not think in this new paradigm like
> the Creator of Creation is creating?

Well, thinking is a rather recent invention - i think - and one of the
complications is that this thinking is, in my view, creative - it creates
ideas, feelings, concepts, rules, cultures - AND reactive - it needs to
control, to judge, to conquer. Because thinking has evolved from survival
strategies - chasing and gathering, looting and guarding - many of our
languages are still "infected" with these grammars, the paradigms, the
control action >< reaction paradigm. Also, as i said earlier, we cannot do
without these thoughts, these reactive actions. We can try to resist them,
but in the end we'll have to accept that we are a violent race, that we
prefer to fight for what we think is right, that we rather destroy our
world than to let somebody have something that belongs to us. This
regards men. Woman probably have other prewired routines.

Don't get me wrong - i say we have to accept that we're violent and
brutal, but that doesn't mean we have to act accordingly. For most people
checking action >< reaction impulses is still difficult, because this
seems a natural response. We're trained to like sports, to like winning,
to feeling superior. We've learned to show of, to be strong. We believe in
ourself. On the other side, that is the nice thing about this time period:
we're creating a new culture. And culture, a new complex culture, will
emerge. So i agree with you: we create the creator of creation.

> Why does humankind want to demonstrate that it is different from the rest
> of Creation and the Creator? Such a demonstration will result in eternal
> damnation, the only outcome possible for this demonstration because it is
> a one-to-one-mapping.

Now this is a judgemental remark. You can not know whether this will be
the case. However, i like the Faustian implications.

Talking about Genesis, isn't the metaphor there that we're evicted from
Paradise the moment we ate from the tree of wisdom? The moment we become
conscious, we realize (another word for creating by thoughts!) we're
vulnerable, we're mortal and we feel responsible for our choices. Also a
nice paradox: if we hadn't been eating from the apple, we wouldn't have

> Sometimes I get the feignt idea that God looks at us as becoming
> potentialities, not AT us in the present, but TO us in the future. This is
> the arrow of time. The shadow of this arrow is to look back into the past
> AT us, to judge us as wasted beings with as little future as in hell. What
> a confrontation do we not have when we reverse the arrow of time to see
> our past shadow.

I also look at us as "becoming potentialities", using the arrow of time to
project ourselves into the future. The ideas about the past and the shadow
i'm trying to incorporate into these images of energies, potentialities,
entropies, choices, conciousness and paradoxes. Leave it at that, will
organize themselves.

> This is not how light works. Light destroys shadows. It is an object which
> cast a shadow by preventing the light to propagate further than the
> object. God is light which propagates through all Creation, except when
> humans place themselves as objects in the path. Perhaps they like their
> shadows more than the light. Sadly, they have to cast that shadow in the
> rest of Creation.

I choose to live with my shadow. Living also implies to cast a shadow.

> >Also, and that is the nice thing with systems, the
> >interpretation will be different for different people. Systems
> >in Systems Thinking, are kind of neutral to projections, so
> >everybody will read, will see, will get whatever he or she
> >expects.
> Aha, again the one-to-many-mapping! Is it not strange that so few people
> wonder what is its mechanism (cause)?



> But then I realised that I actually cause resistance among those who
> classify people into types. So we are back to the beginning of this
> contribution, the hidden paradox -- the fire and the fuel which feed the
> fire -- setting people apart by trying not to do so.

snake her
the own

> The worst thing of
> apartheid in South Africa is that the majority of those in the past who
> engineered apartheid were not there in the future to finish off their
> engineering task. Many were dead and most of the rest found a way to
> escape the scrutinising light.

AHA! But now in think i understand you're resistance against personality
types. Perhaps, had i lived under apartheid, i would have experienced the
negative aspects of typing personalities also and would we strongly
opposed them. I want to stress that i see personality types as a
metaphorical mirror, it supplied me some light on my life and choices, it
still guides me as a kind of early warning system for my preferences,
preferences that are not always shared by all people. So the question
should be: should i be against (Personality Types) tests because of severe
misuse by (other) people of tests?


> Well Jan, I took up the que and added to it many seemingly disjoint topics
> as they fit into my world view. People are free to judge that I have now
> revealed myself as a strongly against personality classifications.

And right you are - it's my party, and i cry if i want to, cry if i want -
you would cry too if it happened to you -


> I myself rather try to understand each human as an irreversible
> self-organising system. The more complex such systems becomes, the less
> the number of identical systems. The species "Homo sapiens" is so complex
> that not only has the genus "Homo" only one species (all the other species
> like "Homo erectus" are dead), but each of all the specimens of this genus
> form a monotypic genus of ist own.

Irreversible self-organising system is one side of each human being.
While doing this, from this self-organising, a second part emerges:
"irreversibly creating self-organising systems" - for instance learning
organisartions and compuetr nerworks. We've been bootstrapped to create

> Yes, "Karash rick", "Lelie jan" "Dressler winfried" and each other fellow
> learner of this list is a species on its own. For, example "rick" is the
> only living specimen of the species "Karash", "jan" is the only living
> specimen of the species "Lelie", etc.

Well, you're special - i'm special too -, but i wouldn't opt for species.
Funny, i see people as a language, you as a word. You see one being as a
species, i only see special speci-mens. Did we cross paths or do we walk
in the same direction, looking to different sides?


> The spirituality of a person is the texture of that person's personality.
> The day when people begin to group people in spirituality types to make
> life easy is day when it is better to live in the dessert for good.

Well, brown man, not so quick jumping over the lazy god. I like the phrase
"the texture of that person's personality", but will not jump to the
conclusion that grouping in spirituality types is a call to "run for the
hills". I can think of many arguments, amongst others:

1. i will never use grouping to judge people
2. life is not easy, can not be made easy, at best it is bearable
3. people have already begone grouping people in <what ever> types
4. we're all in the dessert, desserted the paradise long ago
4. "Sommige dagen van het jaar, is alles wel eens waar" ("some days of
the year, everything is sometimes true" Leo Vroman in a poem about
thinking. Vroman is a Dutch poet who lives in the USA)
5. i will not argue with you - living in the dessert is for the good.

I hope you don't mind my spelling errors - however, some are deliberate.


Jan Lelie


Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan) LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development Mind@Work - est. 1998 - Group Resolution Process Support Tel.: (+ 31) (0)70 3243475 or car: (+ 31)(0)65 4685114 and/or taoSystems: + 31 (0)30 6377973 -

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