Re: New Paradigm Thinking
Wed, 16 Nov 1994 13:28:37 -0500

I use the Capra, Steindl-Rast, and Matus material in my presentations. In
fact, I used it this past weekend in a reengineering consulting engagement
and just finished revising it for an executive course in strategic management
that I will deliver this Saturday.

My material is in a presentation graphics package but I have abstracted and
copied the text portion to send in this message. (The broken lines represent
"page breaks.")

I am sending this to the list in the hope that it will stimulate the
discussion that Brian Frew requested. I would be interested in other list
members' reactions, comments, ...

In addition to book by "Belonging to the Universe," I recommend Capra's
earlier works: "The Tao of Physics" and "The Turning Point." There is also a
wonderful 1990 film based on "The Turning Point" entitled "MindWalk" starring
Liv Ullmann, Sam Waterston, and John Heard.

Gerard P. Learmonth Sr., Ph.D. Phone: (804) 974-1859
Emergent Strategies Incorporated FAX: (804) 974-1859
3200 Malbon Drive e-mail: Learmonth@AOL.COM
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901 U.S.A.

*Some Observations on Change in the External Environment*

Basic and applied science -> Newton, Descartes

Political Economy -> Smith, Ricardo

Technology - > Watt, Edison

Management -> Taylor, Weber

Organization of work -> Ford, Mayo

We have inherited a world view informed by:

- Classical Newtonian mechanics
- Equilibrium economics; decreasing returns
- Productivity through technological substitution
- Separation of planning from doing
- Functional specialization; integration through
hierachical command and control

But today's world view is shaped by:

- Quantum mechanics
- Disequilibrium economics; increasing returns
- Productivity through knowledge and learning
enhanced by information technology
- Reintegration of planning and doing -
empowerment; learning organizations
- Knowledge work; integration through
dynamic networks of individuals - teams

New Thinking in the New Management*

* Old management thinking may be called scientific,
bureaucratic, and corporatist because its main tenets
were formulated by Frederick Winslow Taylor, Max
Weber, and Elton Mayo.

* New management thinking maybe called holistic,
evolutionary, or systemic, but none of these
adjectives characterizes it completely.

* Based on a similar scheme presented by Fritjof Capra,
David Steindl-Rast, and Thomas Matus in: "Belonging to
the Universe."

* New management thinking includes the following
five criteria - the first two refer to our view of
organizations, the other three to our way of
understanding the art and practice of management
-- the epistemology of the new management.

* The new management, as expressed through these
five criteria, directly affects our view of business
process reengineering and our likelihood of success
in achieving our objectives for organizational

1. The Shift from Part to Whole

In the old management it was believed that a complex
organizational system could be understood from the
properties of its parts.

In the new management, the relationship between the
parts and the whole are reversed. The properties of the
parts can only be understood from the dynamics of the
whole. Ultimately there are no parts at all. What we
call a part is merely a pattern in an inseparable web of

2. The Shift from Structure to Process

In the old management it was thought that there were
fundamental functional specialties, rightly organized
and that there were activities and formal mechanisms
through which these interacted giving rise to processes.

In the new management, every structure is seen as the
manifestation of an underlying process. The entire
web of relationships is intrinsically dynamic.

3. The Shift from Management as an Objective
Science to Management as a Process of Knowing

In the old management, the practices of planning,
organizing, and controlling an organization were
assumed to be objective, i.e., independent of the person
managing and the process of knowledge.

The new management holds that the practice of
managing an organization must explicitly recognize
such non-objective factors as intuition, learning,
and adaptation.

4. The Shift from Building to Network as Metaphor
of Knowledge

The metaphor of knowledge as a building - fundamental laws, fundamental
principles, basic building blocks, etc. - has been used in management for

In the new management, the metaphor of knowledge is being replaced by that of
the network. As we come to perceive reality as a network of relationships,
our statements about effective management form an interconnected network of
different perspectives.

In such a network, each perspective may yield unique and valid insights into

Shifting from the building to the network also implies abandoning any idea of
a monolithic system of management binding on all organizations at all times.

5. The Shift in Focus from Absolute to Approximate

Taylorism/Fordism was based on the belief that scientific management could
achieve absolute and final certainty with respect to the organization of
productive activities.

The new management recognizes that all concepts, theories, and findings are
limited in scope and approximate in character. There is no definitive best
way to manage an organization.