Re: Intro: Gezinus J. Hidding + question

Phil Crawford (
Thu, 10 Nov 1994 22:37:22 -0800

G.J. Hidding's post about what a learning organization might look like
struck home for me. We are struggling with a similar situation. Almost
everyone seems to think the way to bring about organizational change is to
draw a new organizational structure. Thanks to Gezinus for reminding that we
must begin the change process where people are rather than where we would
like them to be. In terms of specifics about what a learning organization
might look like, I've gotten some good ideas from the work of Peter Senge
and Tom Peters. They don't provide a cookbook, but I have been able to
create some images for my situation based on some of their ideas. An
example is the notion of itinerant, self-directed, self-educating teams
doing most of the work. However, I have had trouble conveying this complex,
interactive, "disorganized", uncontrolled picture to managers who see
organizations as linear, hierarchical structures. I'm wondering if it is
feasible to talk about "pictures" of an organization without first helping
people change some fundamental ideas about people, power, personal
responsibility, and control.

>My name is Gezinus J. Hidding. I am involved with Andersen Consulting's
>Methodology Program at Andersen's World Head Quarters in Chicago and
lecture in
>the Executive Education Program at Carnegie Mellon University. I have been
>exposed to systems thinking since my graduate studies days back in Holland now
>about 15 years ago, not to mention my Ph.D. degree in Systems Science (and
>Strategic Planning) from CMU. Have always been interested in Decision Support
>Systems (which I believe should be tools not only to help people make better
>decisions, but also to help them learn better decision making) particularly
>strategy decision making. For the past several years, I have been involved in
>completely rethinking methodology for Andersen Consulting (starting with
>helping them write their Methodology Long Range Plan) and continuing with
>implementing new methodology thinking in a "learning organization" paradigm on
>top of an internal electronic information sharing infrastructure.
>In the process of working on this, I have done some amount of reading, but am
>still looking for answers to the following issue: What does an organization
>look like that has adopted (or is adopting, if you will) a "learning
>organization" model? The background for this issue is that we started the
>learning organization implementation at the bottom, and are working our way up
>the management chain. It is reaching the big guys now. In their effort to
>grasp the new paradigm, they would like to see what the learning organization
>might look like, in terms of organization chart. I take their request
>positively; they are sensing the change, and they would like to be educated.
>(Even if the right answer is not an organization chart, they need to start
>there in their personal change process. I feel we should start from and work
>with their current reality.) I have come up with a few things (probably
>specific to Andersen's organization), but would like to find out what other
>folks have come up with. Apart from Quinn's spider web organizational
>I have not found much. (Lots of people seem to say, "learning organization is
>good", lots of descriptions of what behaviors are necessary (probably the most
>important part), but I haven't seen a picture of what a learning organization
>structure might look like if we bumped into one.) Probably did not look in
>right places. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.
Phil Crawford
N.E. District Extension Director
415 Hulbert Hall
Washington State Univers
Pullman, Washington 99164-6230
FAX 509-335-2926