Boundaryless Organization LO22952

AM de Lange (
Fri, 22 Oct 1999 17:46:52 +0200

Replying to LO22918 --

Dear Organlearners,

John Gunkler" <> writes:

[On Ron Ashkenas]
>He, as you suggest, is concerned with the free flow of work and
>ideas -- and especially is concerned with eliminating the perceptual
>barriers caused (in people's heads) by the existence of boundaries.
>I believe he would like to see all perceptual boundaries
>eliminated --
>if not the real ones, which still can serve some purposes.
>To the point of boundaries serving a purpose, I have seen some
>nasty things being written on this list about hierarchies -- .....

Greetings John,

You wisely caution that "real" boundaries can "still serve some"
purposes. As an example you discuss "hierarchies".

The book "The Boundaryless Organization" Ashkenas and Keller can be
studied from many viewpoints. One viewpoint is the seven essentialities of
creativity. From this viewpoint it appears that the book has much to say
on the essentiality openness.

But please remember that Ashkenas and Keller most likely do not know
formally of the seven essentialities. Why? The first ever formal
description of them appeared on this very list. See for the description of
the fifth one on
Essentiality - "quantity-limit" (spareness) LO20541

(I tried to publish their discovery and a description of each in the
traditional channels of paper based journals of academic disciplines, but
it failed dismally because of the transdiciplinary nature of these seven
essentialities.) Exciting as this list "learning-org" of our host Rick
Karash is for many of its couple of thousand memebers, far too few people
from academy make use of it.

Furthermore, few of even fellow learners on our list have studied the
seven essentialities after having encountered them in some way or another
on this list. Again many reasons can be offered. Firstly, people may find
me standing in the way of them. Thus learners avoid them because of me and
the way in which I work. Secondly, these seven essentialities cover an
immense facet of reality, namely its physical and spiritual form. Thus
learners avoid them because of the intimidation by their complexity.
Thirdly, these essentialities are only one facet of what I consider as
"deep creativity". Immaturity in any facet of "deep creativity" makes the
understanding of them extremely difficult.

Since so few people have any formal knowledge on the seven essentialities,
it is a very unusual excercise to study any book or paper from the
viewpoint of the seven essentialties. It is very much like astronauts in a
space shuttle orbiting earth and studying earth. Few have had that
opportunity and perhaps few will ever have that opportunity. Those who had
the opportunity say that earth will never be the same to them again. The
same with the seven essentialities. They allow us to orbit reality. Once
we have looked at reality from them, our perceptions of reality will have
changed forever.

It is dangerous and foolish to think a study is comprehensive when made
from any particular viewpoint, even from the seven essentialities. A
space shuttle orbiting around the equator does not give the same viepoint
as when orbiting over the poles. To orbit the earth in all directions we
need something of which "deep creativity" is my humble rendering.

It is dangerous and foolish to reckon that any book will tell us much
about all the seven essentialities. We need many books for this task.
Some books may assist us in telling us more about a particular
essentiality, but each such a book tells us little about the other six.
Furthermore, since most of these books have been written without formal
knowledge on all seven essentialities, its information on a particular
essentiality is usually between the lines rather than in them. Thus it is
dangerous and foolish to judge a book on some of the essentialities, or to
judge the seven essentialities on some book.

The book "The Boundaryless Organization" tells us more about the
essentiality opennessm, usually between the lines rather than in the
lines. Eliminating perceptual boundaries seems to be a lofty purpose. But
unless we trace the full chain of consequences what such an elemination
will result into, it is best to to put a bridal on our mind rather than
let it running freely around.

Let me explain why. A boundary is a boundary because it prevents the flow
of at least one thing. It can be more than one kind of thing. A boundary
which does not prevent the flow of anything in the slightest manner is not
a boundary any more, not even in our wildest imagination. Assume that the
boundary prevents the flow of at least one thing, denoted by "flow A", and
allow the flow of at least one other things, denoted by "flow B". It is in
the very nature of the Law of Entropy Production (LEP) that the "flow B"
happens because of a "force B". It is pairs like "force-flow B" which
produce entropy. It is entropy production which drives all changes in
reality. Entropy is never produced by forces alone or flows alone. This an
entropic force alone or an entropic flow alone cannot ever drive any

It is also in the very nature of LEP that any real flow like "flow B"
induces a complex network of entropic forces in any complex system. This
is the very essence of the Onsager reciprocal (cross-inductive)
relationships. It means that "flow B" will induce many entropic forces.
Some of them will have corresponding flows, say "force C" with "flow C".
These flows are possible because of boundaries permeable to them. Other
induced entropic forces will not have flows because of boundaries
impermeable to them. Here "force A" is our representative example.

It is most important to understand that when a boundary is completely
impermeable to a flow like "flow A", it is impossible to observe or
measure "flow A" because it will be too small for detection. To measure
the corresponding "force A" at all, we have to "bend the rule" by allowing
a very small amount of "flow A" to emerge, so small that it does not
influence the "force A" too much. There is absolutely no other way to
measure the "force A" for a boundary completely impermeable to "flow A".
We need the entropy production of the "force-flow A" pair to create ANY
information on "force A". Similarly it is most important to understand
that when a boundary is completely permeable to a "flow D", its
corresponding "force D" is too small to produce sufficient entropy. Hence
we cannot create information on "flow D". To create ANY information of
"flow D" we again need to "bend the rule" by making the boundary slightly
less permeable so that a tiny "force D" emerge, so small that it does not
influence "flow D" too much. Thus the entropy production in "force-flow D"
pair allows us to know anything about "flow D".

The above paragraph describe something very important about the
essentiality openness. When we open or close a boundary, we must do it
softly and not hardly. A hard boundary, i.e. either completely open
(permeable) or completely closed (impermeable) cannot be observed because
of the lack of entropy production. If it is fully open, its entropic force
is too small to allow us any observation. If it is fully closed, its
entropic flow is too small to allow us any observation. A softboundary,
i.e. a semi-permeable boundary, can always be observed, although we
udually do not perceive the possibility of such an observation. When our
perception prevents us from observing a soft (semi-permeable) boundary, it
is because our perception itself is based on a hard boundary such as sharp
logic. When our perception allows us to perceive a soft boundary, it is
because our perception is based on a soft boundary such as fuzzy logic. In
other words SOFT perceptual boundaries allow observation of SOFT system
boundaries. In a like manner I can show that HARD perceptual boundaries
restrictus to the observation of HARD system boundaries.

This facet of openness is really shocking. Is it not the most
extraordinary of all imaginations? No. In the early sixties Ralph Pearson
formulated the HSAB (Hard Soft Acid Base) principle in chemistry. This
principle says that hard acids and hard bases will seek each other to
react while soft acids and soft bases will seek each other to react. Only
when likes are not present, a hard acid and soft base will react, or for
the same reason, a soft acid and a hard base. The HSAB priciple allows us
to order an incredible complex expansion of information. Its theoretical
foundation is in terms of Quantum Mechanics (QM). HOMO (Higher Occupied
Molecular Orbitals) interactions lead to hard-hard reactions while LUMO
(Lower Unoccupied Molecular Orbitals) lead to soft-soft reactions.

Oh dear, what a tyranny ;-)

The HSAB principle gives us also some of the finest insights in the
chemistry of self-organising systems like soils and biological organisms.
The massive chemistry in our body to produce free energy is hard-hard
chemistry. For example, the digestion of carbohydrates and proteins
involves hard-hard chemistry. But the minute chemistry in our body to
control free energy applications is soft-soft chemistry. For example, the
release of a sex hormone to aid a sexual function involves soft-soft

Aha, the tyranny seems to have a soft nature!

When we think of boundaries of any system, we should never loose sight of
this hard-hard/soft-soft interaction. Should we do so, we will perpetuate
confusion in which we ourselves will get lost forever.

I should stop now, but I have to make one comment more on the "force A"
emerging across a completely impermeable boundary as a result of any other
"flow B" together with its "force B" acting over a semi-permeable
boundary. It may seem to you fellow learners that such a "force A" without
an accompanying "flow A" serves no purpose. In other words, it seems as if
a super hard boundary defies any develop in the future. A most
extraordinary example is the physical death which awaits for all of us
(except Enoch and Eliah). It seems as there is no life after death, that
once we hit the boundary of death, life cease to exist.

Many religions tells us that there is life after death. But relgions act
on the level of believing. What about science which acts mainly on the
level of learning. Does it tell us anything about the future of a
completely impermeable wall? Yes, when that wall gives way (something
which I call the "creative collapse"), the "force A" will generate a
"flow A". Furthermore, the greater the "force A", the greater the "flow A"
PAIR. A wall of a dam bursting as a result of the hydrostatic pressure
developing behind the wall is a fine example of what I mean.

The greater the "force-flow A" pair, the greater the chaos it will lead to
and the further the edge of chaos it will lead to. Have you seen what
people do when the wall of a dam bursts. Some persons emerge to the level
of unconditional love, serving others with heroic deeds in which the
desire for self-preservation vanishes. Other people immerge to the level
of untainted opportunism, denigrating the victims with vile deeds
(stealing, raping and murdering) in which the desire for self-preservation
reaches its zenith.

On a more sober note -- that thing which we so easily speak of as a
"paradigm shift", is nothing else than a kind of "creative collapse" which
specifically involves an impermeable boundary in the perception of at
least one civilisation. The day when that civilisation(s) experiences how
a impermeable wall in perceptions gives way is the day when the paradigm
shift is beginning to happen.

For me one of the greatest tasks of all members of any LO is not to break
away impermeable walls prematurely, but to help each other to become
prepared for the day when the breaking of that wall cannot be prevented
any more. In other words, the task of the LO is not to remove the boundary
most impermeable to it and thus to make it effectively boundaryless, but
to prepare people by creatining learning believing and loving for the day
when that boundary ceases to exist. Should we have no love for each other
when the wall breaks up, we will do the vilest of things rather than serve
each other with love as our helmsman and bridel.

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

[Host's Note: In association with, these links...

The Boundaryless Organization : Breaking the Chains of Organizational Structure by Ron Ashkenas, Dave Ulrich, Todd Jick, Steve Kerr

At, I hope I have found the right book above... ..Rick

The Boundaryless Organization Field Guide : Practical Tools for Building the New Organization by Ron Ashkenas, Todd Jick, Dave Ulrich, Catherine Paul-Chowdhury


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