Re[1]: Unskillful decisions

Thu, 2 Feb 95 09:51:10 +1100

from "Gray Southon" <>

I would like to contribute a further concept which I think expands on

That is the concept of distributed intelligence.

Most physical sciences, and much of organisational theory for that matter,
implicily assumes that situations are understood from one perspective -
i.e. one works with a central intelligence (usually one's own). In this
context, hierarchy and autocratice managment makes a lot of sense.

However, I contend that things like organisations cannot be understood
from one perspective, so it is necessary to link everybody's perspectives
through their individual intelligences for the organisation to be
understood. i.e. we must coordinate distributed intelligences.

I think we need a better understanding of what this involves.


Gray Southon

Reply to message text:

From: "Robert Levi" <>

Thanks for the clarification re: Unskillful decisions. If I may reflect back
to you:
-- You relate increasing skill to faster feedback and corrections that are
more finely matched to the needed adjustment;
-- In non-linear systems (i.e. ecosystems) we are relatively unskillful
because feedback is "incomplete" and responses are only "marginally effective."
-- You feel that in order to increase skill as a society, we need "more
people (reactions) using a common goal and sharing information to improve
the completeness of the feedback" which you call "collaborative holism".

These are very important ideas. I plan to share them with the whole-sys
list, as well as the learning-org list.

My understanding is that you relate increased skill to more people sharing
information, so as to provide a more complete feedback loop. I hear your
assumption that more people will provide a broader range of feedback, due to
their differing mental models as they pertain to the common goal. So my
conclusion is that it is useful to have a wide range of mental models
available in support of a common goal. This is not usually an easy thing to
swallow. I'd like to seek deeper inquiry between the relationship between a
common goal and differing mental models.

Robert Levi | 4801 N. 107th St. | voice: 303/665-6679,x361
Director of Computing | Lafayette, CO 80026 | fax: 303/665-0757
Alexander Dawson School | email: | Systems Thinking Junkie