Mike McMaster inquires:
>In earlier posts, I suggested an analogy of cells in a human being
>(brain, etc) being equivalent to human beings in organisations when
>it comes to organisational learning. The analogy suggests a similar
>equivalence for intelligence as emergent from either cells or
>individuals. That is, it is the quanitity, nature and connections of
>cells from which intelligence emerges in an individual. We may say
>similar things about individuals and organisations.
>My question here is, what is the nature of language in all of this?
>Maybe it will be profitable to consider that a major source of the
>emergence of intelligence from cells is the communication structures
>between them. I'm not an expert on this but the impulses and the
>systems by which they enhance or dampen effects as those impulses
>move through the system is a key part of what emerges.
>In organisation, the analogy may be language itself. The language of
>an organisation is what amplifies or dampens various messages and
>signals and the intelligence - and learning - are facilitated by the
>language (including its patterns and structures) and constituted by
>the language. I would include in this the practices and
>interpretations which have become embedded in the physical language
>which no one talks about any more but which still determines much of
>the meaning attached to action and results.
Michael, I have long been a proponent of the concept that organizations
behave like living organisms and so the analogy to the cellular activity
of the body goes down very smooth. Each cell performs a function
(although it appears the function of many is simply to be redundantly
available - a concept which shames what "redundant" means in
organizations, especially in its British usage) and the life of the
organism depends greatly on exchanges between cells. These exchanges take
many forms, including electrical impulses, chemical transfers, osmosis,
repatriation of processed material, bonding, etc. It is common to speak
of the organism's intelligence at the cellular level as the exchanges and
the pathways for exchange between neurons, a particular type of cell.
That is the reductionist view (brain and nervous system as "seat" of
intelligence) that you are always helping us uncover. But perhaps
intelligence emerges from all cellular exchanges and actions, including
digestion, waste disposal, immune activity ("war"), reproduction, etc.
Connecting to our analogy, language would be only one component of the
communications structure. Other signs (winks, stares, handshakes,
glances, etc.) are obviously other parts of the communications structure.
Less obvious may be roles in social rituals (eating, drinking, courting,
seducing, etc.), handoffs of outputs in the work process (welds, pours,
parts, plans, reports, memos, etc.), and introductions to new experience
(giving someone Mike McMasters' e-mail address, sharing a dish of chile
relleno, referring someone to AA, recommending a movie, etc.)
This is not meant to detract in any way from the centrality of language as
a means for transmitting and receiving information about experience. The
cultural disconnect occurs when language replaces in our understanding the
experience which it is intended to represent, a very common outcome in
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