Debra makes a very good point, but not a fatal point, about the
predictability of systems, in particular LOs.
== begin quote ==
An excellent book to read about systems (which an organization is, of
course) is Erich Jantsch's the Self Organizing Universe and/or Ilya
Prigogine's Order Out of Chaos. The reason I mention this is that
"predictability" is a concept for a closed, isolated system, a point that
is often overlooked. The best can do is increase the probability or the
possibility that a certain outcome will occur. We use our best
information, intuition, even hunches to ensure the outcome we want. A
learning organization, for me, is one that acknowledges that the future is
open, ready to be created moment by moment.
Organizations are open systems (a first principle) and are therefore
"unpredictable." There is no formula, mathematical or otherwise, that can
predict behaviour in an open system.
== end quote ==
As a counter-example to the notion that open systems are unpredictable,
consider the solar system. It is part of a very large open system, and
from a theoretical perspective, we cannot predict the movement of even a
3-body solar system. Therefore, by this we cannot predict the movement of
the solar system.
But in reality, we not only have solar system 'first principles' which
operate very well, but we can predict with great accuracy the movements of
the planets in the solar system. Why the contradiction? Three issues.
First, if we are willing to give up 'perfect' mathematical accuracy, then
we can achieve any level of approximation we desire in many systems.
Second, in some systems -- those in the chaotic state or on the border of
chaos -- then any level of aproximation becomes not possible. Third, if
our time horizon is sufficiently short, then we can again predict with
some accuracy. The weather forecast for next month is very poor, but for
an hour from now it is excellent.
Intuitively (to me) the broad outlines of what makes an LO are probably
not within the bounds of chaos. If this were so, then there would be no
hope of ever replicating an LO from one place to another, and that is too
pesimistic for me. So both cases 1 and 3 above allow some level of
predictability.
By the way, the 'first principles' of the solar system are very well
understood even though it is an open system, and we cannot mathematically
predict the exact placement of any of the planets. So it would appear
that first principles canbe identified even in open systems, but perhaps
not _calculated_.
--Rol Fessenden LL Bean, Inc 76234,3636@compuserve.com
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>