Measuring Organizational Learning LO22700

J.C. Lelie (
Sun, 19 Sep 1999 22:43:53 +0200

Replying to LO22678 --

Hello Art and other practioners,

Your mail "Measuring Organizational Learning LO22678 ("Arthur M.
Schneiderman" , do 17:39)" somehow triggered me to visit your website.

I recognize a lot of what you say. In my work i've been strongly
influenced by Argyris (double loop learning), Weick (create mini-theories
- system archetypes) AND (as a physicist) i've always tried to achieve
measurable - i prefer to call it observable - results.

The main issue, as i've experienced it, is that most people, managers
included, will use measurements in order to control - the behaviour of -
other people. The reason is straight forward: reduce uncertainty, reduce
tension, reduce complexity, reduce ambiguity.

I've always said "numbers are but a quantified expression of an opninion"
(Charles Handy), so numbers only support - or not - your opinion. Now
people will indeed behave in the way they're measured, noteably when used
to control their behaviour. I tried to use measurements to tell me
something about the processes, not to control people, but like an
observable of a (hidden or not-yet-known) process. The behaviour of the -
people inside the - system is irrelevant, it is the result that counts.
When there are people inside the system - beings able to learn - most of
the time they'll manage themselves, find ways and means to get the desired

In a way, measuring tells you only something about yourself, the way you
look at the world, what you think is real. It is in a way like Quantum
Physics: when you think light is waves, you'll measure wave
characteristics, like interference. When you think light is particles,
you'll measure the photo-electric effect.

Light itself doesn't care. It has both characteristics. It behaves the way
you measure it. Organizational processes probably have the same two sides:
a control (theory X), particle-like side and a process (theory Y),
wave-like, side. Incompatible to be measured in the same experiment.

By the way, maybe there is also a kind of organisational Heisenberg
uncertainty principle, the lelie Action-reaction Emergent I Organisational
Uncerainty principle (l-AEIOU-p):

The better you know your position in the organisation the less you'll know
where the organisation is changing- and/or - the better you know where the
organisation is creating change, the less you'll know where your position
is. Or (delta action/reaction control) times (delta emergent learning)
equals at least some constant involving pi. This complies with the Dilbert

Arthur M. Schneiderman wrote:

> I've had a long term interest in both performance measurement and
> organizational learning. I have a short essay on my website on this
> subject. In it, I propose a definition of organizational learning as well
> as a universal metric. I would be interested in any comments.

Kind regards, wherever you are

Jan Lelie


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

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