Content-Form LO23216

AM de Lange (
Fri, 12 Nov 1999 14:15:34 +0200

Replying to LO23165 --

Dear Organlearners,

Winfried Dressler <> writes:

>For me the concept of adding value is not customer oriented.
>No customer buys added value. Customer buy value!
>So whenever I want to stress the customer focus, I insist on
>talking of creating value, not adding value.

Greetings Winfried,

As I drove to the university this morning, I was thinking that I must find
time to congratulate you in private on this careful distinction. I thought
that since you have been trained as a physicist and not a chemist, this is
a major leap in your thinking. A chemist has to be an order more
sensitive to the distinction between content/form than a physicist in
order to be able to succeed as a chemist.

But as usual I first went though all the mail and then found to my
surprise in the learning-org-digest V1 #2385 the reply of John Zavacki
<> in LO23186 to you in which he wrote:

>The concept of 'added value' is an economic one, Winfried.
>It deals with the transformation of raw materials or components,
>labor, thought, or some other form of material or energy from a
>potentially valuable to a deliverable state. Value add is work
>performed which creates profit. It IS an internal metric.

I said to myself "Ach nein, nicht wieder zum Butterfass!"

Shake, shake, shake -- you trying to transform cream into butter and
buttermilk so that you can sell butter to spread on bread. You trying to
transform the colloidal system into two separate phases --

Shake, shake, shake -- John trying to transform butter and milk into cream
so that he can freeze it into icecream to sell it. John trying to
transform two separate phases in a system into a single colloid phase --

My daughter Jeanette working as a food technologist in a factory for
bakery supplies, trying to formulate a foolproof bun mixture which has to
leap from fine-mixture => colloid => textured-bread. Too many "Winfrieds"
and "Johns" working in opposite directions in the mixer, then the prover
and finally the oven for her to keep them all together. "Dad, please come
and help me". (After an hour's driving and two hours study of ingredients
and results.) "Jeanette, its content and form interacting". "Dad, stop
musing and help me". "Jeanette, increase the immediately available
nitrogen content by substituting 1 of the 3 ppm azocarbamide with 2 ppm
carbodiamide." "OK, if you say so." (Next day on phone.) "Dad, it works
better, but not good enough." "Yes, yeast organisms like their food best
in a collodial state." "How do you know that?" "It is an issue of
content-form." "Dad, I wish you would stop speaking in riddles."
"Jeanette, it is a riddle to me why you do not try to think in terms of
what is riddles to you." Shake, shake, shake.

The word "addition" has a special meaning for a chemist in chemistry. A
chemist will immediately think of an addition reaction. The form of an
addition reaction is A + B = AB. It is opposite to an elimination reaction
with form AB = A + B. The chemist also distinguishes a substitution
reaction with form AB + C = AC + B.

For the mathematical or physical minded person the latter
substitution is merely a combination of addition and elimination
because it can be thought of
AB + C = A + B + C (elimination) = A + BC (addition)
Is this not a clear case for which Occam's razor can be used to
get rid of the superfluous? No, the chemical minded person knows
the difference! These latter case is a two step elimination-addition
reaction whereas the substitution reaction is a one step reaction.
The chemical kinetics of a two step elimination-addition reaction
differs vastly from a one-step substitution reaction. Yet both
begins as AB + C and ends with A + BC. Shake, shake, shake.

So what has this to do with economical value? 150km from Pretoria to the
noth-west there is a huge mountain of iron oxide at a place called
Thabazimbi ("thaba"=mountain, "zimbi"=iron). 120km to the east of
Pretoria there are atill some remains of vast coal reserves at a place
called Witbank ("wit"= white, "bank"=outcrop). In Pretoria we have the
last remains of an iron foundary called ISCOR (Iron and Steel
CORporation). Before WWII it was one of the 50th largest corporations in
the world, sustaining tens of thousands of workers with jobs. But because
of international developments (sanctions and low steel price) and bad
management the ISCOR Pretoria Works is now history.

I can take you now in less than a hour to thousands of kids (white and
black) who most mornings go hungry to school. I can take you now to
beggars in our streets (white and black) of whom many were once proud
ISCOR workers.

The very heart of ISCOR's value creation was the (unbalanced) chemical
reaction Fe2O3 + C = Fe + CO2. It is a substitution reaction. The trouble
with ISCOR's managers was that they buzied themselves with additions and
eliminations in all walks of management, but seldom even thought of
substitutions. The structures and processes of the factory became outdated
so that the costs increased and the incomes decreased. The adding and
eliminating of managers and by managers became wilder as the writing
appeared on the wall. Eventually death stepped in.

Many large organisations, public and private, each employing thousands of
workers, have gone the same way in the province Gauteng (formerly known in
apartheid South Africa as the PWV region --
Preoria-Witwatersrand-Vereening). Gauteng is the heart and brain of the
ecocomic activities in South Africa. Almost all of these now defunct
organisations were led in their dying years by managers having graduated
in management, but knowing nothing of "that of which the value had to be
increased". In other words, they were superbly trained in the form of
organisations, but were ignorant of the unique content in terms of which
their organisation had been functioning.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. You all know about the crime
situation in South Africa worsening month after month. About a month ago
a new head for the Police Services of South Africa was appointed. He
proudly announced that he was selected among many and appointed because he
knew so much about management, even though he knows nothing about

This philosophy of form being able to operate without content works well
close to equilibrium where additions and eliminations abound (See the
Digestor model which I have described about a year ago -- some crystals
grow by additions and others diminish by eliminations.) It works in all
kinds of systems -- biological, economical, educational, political, social
and even religious. But when the system moves from the stable order close
to equilibrium to the edge of chaos where the order becomes unstable
(labile) and eventually bifurcates, this philosophy becomes a misguiding
model. It is then when the innate relationship between content and form
becomes most important. Why?

At the very bifurcation itself there must be a collapse of form to some
degree. This is needed to supply the free energy for the internal
production of entropy so that a new order (higher with more order by
emergence or lower with more chaos by immergence) can be established. The
partial collapse of form result in a closer interaction with the
underlying content from which the new order with its forms have to
bifurcate. Think of the AB in AB + C as closer to form and the C as closer
to content. Hence the substitution AB + C = A + BC tells us that there is
a reorganisation in form with respect to content. Consequently it is not
strange that substitution reactions rather than addition or elimination
reactions are abundant at the edge of chaos. Shake, shake, shake.

Now imagine for yourself when the platform on which you are operating
collapses and you find no firm content underneath which act as a
substitute for the platform. All which remain is to fall into a black hole
down and down until you are history like ISCOR Pretoria Works.

Dr Deming stressed in #2 of his advice how to manage organisations that
members (including managers) will have to change their philosophy
continually. If there ever was a need to follow this advice, it is when an
organisation moves from the vincinity of equilibrium to the edge of chaos.
In order to anticipate such a shift, the manager has to substitute timely
rather than to add or eliminate as he used to do.

Winfried, I suspect that many organisations in Germany are now shifting
from the vincinity of equilibrium to the edge of chaos. This did not
happen because of only their own entropy production, but also the flood of
entropy forced upon them. In a certain sense the fall of the Berlin Wall
was a self production of entropy for the German people (but not for the
citizins of W Germany). However, the formation of the EU did by large
flooded Germany with entropy, forcing it closer to the edge of chaos. The
influx of migrant workers did the same. So, while some people in the USA
tell you how good their philosophy is (apparently for the USA), it may be
vitally important for you to think whether you live in Germany or the USA.
Germany and the USA might not be synchronised with respect to entropy
production and its meandering between equilbrium and the edge of chaos.

I think that as a German you will appreciate the following very much.
Through my own readings I came under the impression that the German
philosphers the past couple of centuries have been far more sensitive to
the innate relationship between content and form than philosphers of other
countries (except perhaps the Netherlands). So where did it all began?
When you draw your own philosophy charts, you will notice that this
sensitivity began in the late 17 early 18 hundreds. So we have to look for
a thinker who put the ball rolling. I think that this person is the very
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Most people, when they know something of Goethe, they know merely that he
was a (perhaps famous) writer. A few know that he wrote Faust -- the
ultimate "drama in shake, shake, shake". Even less know that when some
daring psychologists confident in psychometry began to estimate the IQ of
people from the past, they found Goethe to top the list with an IQ far
over 200. Here is an interesting excerpt from a letter to Charlotte von
Stein in 1786:

* What pleasures me most at present is plant-life.
* Everything is forcing itself upon me, I no longer have
* to think about it, everything comes to meet me, and
* the whole gigantic kingdom becomes so simple that
* I can see at once the answer to the most difficult
* problems. If only I could communicate the insight and
* joy to someone, but it is not possible. And it is no
* dream or fancy: I am beginning to grow aware of the
* essential form with which, as it were, Nature always
* plays, and from which she produces her great variety.
* Had I the time in this brief span of life I am confident I
* could extend it to all the realms of nature -- the whole
* Realm.

What? Goethe the botanist? Is it not another person than Goethe the poet?
No. We can write books on Goethe and his many faculties -- one for each
faculty. Few people, even in the world of botany, knows that the system
thinking followed up to now in botanical anatomy was laid down by Goethe
in his epic work The Metamorphosis of Plants. Few knows that Goethe has
pried open the one-to-many-mapping of zoological species. Thus he laid the
foundation for Lamarck to offer the first ever theory of evolution. It
accepted the one-to-many-mapping of species and offered environmental
factors as the mechanism for explaining it. Then followed Darwin who also
accepted the one-to-many-mapping of species, but offered natural selection
as the mechanism for explaining it.

In his morphogenesis, Goethe showed that every single plant as content had
in form three permanent distinctive features: roots, stem and leaves.
These he extended to seven morphological features in the pattern

Seed from fruit <==> contraction
Fruit <==> expansion
Sex organs <==> contraction
Corolla <==> expansion
Leaves to Calyx <==> contraction
Stem <==> expansion
Roots from seed <==> contraction

His "expansion" in the terminology of self-organising systems would mean
"increase in entropy production" while his contraction would mean
"decrease in entropy production". Thus the swinging between expansion and
contraction would mean, to use Senge's phrase, "the dance of change".

So Winfried, if you or any other fellow learner, get that (what I will
call) "Goethe feeling" as Goethe has carefully described it above,
recognise it for what it is worth. When others question you as if you were
following a dream or a fancy, know like Goethe that you cannot communicate
the insight and joy of what is real to someone else. Why? Because they do
not have the corresponding forms in their thought patterns. You will never
succeed in inducing such forms on the contents of their thoughts because
only they can emerge self to these forms.

Since those person's who have the "Goethe feeling" cannot communicate it
to others, they should never, never think of themselves as better than
other people, nor ever allow other people to think of such a way of them,
either to praise them or to condemn them. The only thing which "Goethians"
can do, is to articulate as best as they can about the "Goethian feeling"
to whoever questions them. After all, they are merely those persons
actively participating in a paradigm shift. Since they (the "Goethians")
are always few in number during a paradigm shift, those who make a profit
out of any rare thing will (as soon as they perceive this paradigm shift)
try to give the "Goethians" as high a value as possible so as to maximise
their own profits.

This is something which I deplore as a teacher. I have observed feelings
SIMILAR to the "Goethe feeling" in many learners during their emergent
phase of learning. (Obviously, these learners were not so many in numbers
because the majority of learners prefered or conformed to rote learning as
that which works best in the traditional system of education.) I say
"similar" because it is as close as I can compare a "baby" to an "adult".
But even they begin to experience among their many "peers" how they cannot
communicate about their own emergences. Should they use Goethe's
"language", what they know as to be their "flowers", those fellow learners
boxed in by rote learning cannot even perceive as "modified leaves", but
at most as "crooked leaves".

Dear fellow learners, all of you. Do you feel that I have excluded you
from this content-form topic in one or more ways? It may easily happen
because I wanted to focus on Goethe and not merely the content-form topic.
Confucius, Socrates, Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci and Bacon are the kind of
people whom we have to study in order to escape the over-specialisation so
rampant in modern times. It is not my intention to exclude any one of you.
I want to include each of you. And if I in my foollish ways forced you to
exclude yourself, please do not let this happen and forgive me.

Please read Goethe's description very carefully. Do not make any additions
or eliminations on it, although you can make as many substitutions as you
want. For example, substitute "plant-life" with "economic life" or
"social life" and thus Nature with Culture. Have you had some experiences
similar to Goethe? Yes?

Do you fear to have such experiences again? Do you not take any more pride
in such experiences? Do you avoid such experiences in your program of
self-improvement? Do you think you will loose far more in such experiences
than gaining from them? Do you believe that such experiences cannot ever
be accounted for in a philosophy or systems thinking? Do your organisation
frown upon such experiences?

Do your purposes in life lack guts and focus? Then it is high time to
experience the "Goethe feeling" again. How? Begin doing the things which
you love unconditionally. Stop trying to condition that love since others
are doing it because you are fighting a battle against the law of perfect
liberty which you will never won.

Love gives form to all content.

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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