Let us discuss the following burning question: Is creativity necessary for
an organisation to become a LO? This question is very closely related to
the question 'What is the LO' as you will soon see.
What is creativity? Many people believe that only some humans are creative
such as Mozart and Einstein. Some think that most humans are creative in
terms of all the innovative things which they do. A few people believe
that even animals (those with plastic neural systems) are creative. The
crux of the matter is that in each of the above cases a different
definition for creativity was used.
Creativity cannot allow only one definitions for it - that would be most
uncreative! Which definition should we then follow? Let us look at the
nature of an LO. Any organisation (scientific, social, economical,
political, religious, educational, etc.) can become a LO. Thus, for such a
broad base, we need the most INCLUSIVE definition for creativity.
Here is a very inclusive definition: ANY POSSIBLE CHANGE IS THE RESULT OF
SOME DEGREE OF CREATIVITY. This definition is so encompassing that it does
not only include animals with plastic neural systems, but all forms of
life. It even includes inanimate life. Thus this definition makes
creativity not only a universal issue, but also a very complex issue.
Furthemore, this definition is very well suited for a problem often
encountered in the management of organisations, namely how to cope with
Is the definition above really the best one we can create? No. If we
carefully analyse the definition, we will see that it makes creativity the
cause (input) and change the result (output). In other words, it defines
creativity in terms of one of its outcomes. However, there are many other
outcomes also common to all creativity. Each of these outcomes may then
serve as a definition for creativity. Although such definitions cannot be
denied on creativity grounds, they will compell us to follow an immense
program to manage coherence between these different definitions and what
follows from them. We should not make a complex thing even more complex
when things are becoming really complex.
What we need, is a definition in which something else is the
cause (input) and creativity the result (output). Is it
possible to find such a defintion which is as inclusive as the
former one? Yes. Here is a definition which will, unfortunately,
leave most of you in the dark:
CREATIVITY IS THE RESULT OF ENTROPY PRODUCTION
Crazy? Let us not pursue this defintion any further, but let us
merely note that a universal definition of creativity as the
result of something else is indeed possible.
Let us rather pursue the question asked at the beginning:
Is creativity necessary for an organisation to become a LO?
We should not confuse this question with the following one:
Is creativity necessary for the formation and functioning of
If we use the definition 'creativity results in any change',
then the answer to the latter question is definitely yes: the
formation and functioning of any organisation requires
creativity. However, the former question concerns a much deeper
relationship between creativity and learning rather than the
general one between creation and organisation.
What is this deep relationship between creativity and learning? Let us
remind ourselves again that there are many defintions for creativity. If
the relationship between creativity and learning is merely shallow (casual
and accidental), then obviously a LO should not pay any special attention
to such a relationship. However, if the relationship is deep (causal and
consistent), then the LO should pay prime attention to this relationship.
The more universal our definition for creativity becomes, the more it
appears that such a deep relationship exists between creativity and
learning. How can we delineate this relationship? Creativity requires more
than one way. Let us follow the logical way.
The proposition 'to learn is to create' define a possible relationship.
This proposition makes learning a subset (subclass) of creative acts. (In
mathematical category theory, this proposition will be called an inclusion
functor.) In other words, learning is a special kind of creativity in
which the mind of at least one person is involved. Consequently it is very
important to us to determine whether the proposition is true or not.
Unfortunately, the determination of the truth of the proposition 'to learn
is to create' is not an easy matter. We have already seen that it involves
our understanding of creativity. Likewise it also involves our
understanding of learning. Since the issue of learning is almost as
complex as the issue of creating, the truth determination itself is also
The major complexity involved in the truth determination, is that of a
paradigm shift. The paradigm shift happens to some people when they, once
they begin to contemplate the proposition 'to learn is to create',
percieve it as a basic tenet. They will usually say that they 'feel the
truth with their guts'. In other words, they intuitively and easily
believe in the irrevocable truth of the proposition. When they encounter
inconsistencies, they rather question and reform some other beliefs than
On the other hand, those who have not experience the paradigm shift,
remains extremely sceptical of the truth of the proposition, even if all
sorts of truth validations are offered. They seldom percieve any relation
between learning and creating. Thus, when they encounter inconsistencies,
they woill attribute it to an invalid relationship between creativity and
I have tried above to discuss the role of creativity in the LO as
impartial as possible. I have shown that creativity may be the foundation
on which learning can be organised. However, allow me now to show my
exitement about this possibility because it is what will happen in the
One of the sentences which I have formulated above is: "learning is a
special kind of creativity in which the mind of at least one person is
involved". We have to acknowledge that a person can definitely learn even
when alone. It has happened to each of us on many occassions. However, in
most of our learning at least one other person was involved. In other
words, learning has an immense organisational (social) dimension to it.
This is the very reason why the concept of the LO may not only be formed,
but is so very important. We become together!
[the next sentence define a LO]
Any organisation becomes an LO when the prosperity of all its members are
promoted primarily and specifically through learning and not, for axample,
profit-making or dominating. However, we cannot simply assume or expect
the prosperity of learning itself. The propsperity of learning also has to
be promoted. The most powerful way of promoting learning is specifically
through creativity! I am absolutely certain that any organisation which
will not promote the creativity of all its members, will not become a
superior LO, despite all its other efforts.
But let us also be forewarned. If the organisation promotes merely
creativity and not also learning, such an organisation is equally doomed.
Why? Creativity may be employed primarily to make more profit or to
dominate others more rather than to promote learning. To understand this,
compare creativity with a nuclear reaction. Both a nuclear bomb and a
nuclear reactor depends on the fission of radioactive elements. The
organisation promoting only creativity is like a nuclear bomb while the
organisation promoting learning based on creativity is like a nuclear
reactor. The one leads to destruction while the other one leads to
Learning has a moral side to it which creativity per se does not have. In
learning we wish to promote the creativity of our fellow humans. In other
words, we emerge through our own creativity into serving the creativity of
other humans. This means that learning is one of the emergent qualities of
creativity. Creativity without learning is like water with no container to
carry it in. Learning without creativity is like a container without any
water in it. Thus learning gives form to creativity while creativity
After 2500 years of simplicity, we are now about to enter the new era of
complexity. Complexity is the result of creativity. If we wish to prosper
in the new era of complexity, we have to match the complexity around us
with a superior complexity within us. Only one thing can result in this
superior complexity within us, namely learning. Is it not exciting -
finally creating and learning have come to age!!
At de Lange
Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education
University of Pretoria
Pretoria, South Africa
"Mnr AM de Lange" <AMDELANGE@gold.up.ac.za>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <firstname.lastname@example.org> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>