intro - Iris Tiemessen

Iris Berdrow (
Wed, 28 Dec 94 15:06:46 EST

Hello and Happy New Year,

After having read the thoughts and ideas being posted to the OL
network, I decided I should introduce myself and contribute my own. I am a
doctoral candidate at the Western Business School and my thesis is on
collaborative learning in international joint ventures. I am focusing on
Canadian and American joint ventures with Mexican firms. The model I am
developing marries work in the fields of international business,
organizational behavior, and culture. I am intrigued by the question, "How do
culturally diverse groups of people with different business practices and
cultural norms, come together to engage in a joint activity and do it

I was particularly interested in the conversation on metaphors. My own
metaphor for organizational learning is the human body. I believe that OL
consists of structure which provides the framework for what happens - the
skeleton, the systems which send the information - the veins and messaging
systems, the departments that actually do the work - the organs, muscles and
limbs, the boundary spanners that gather the information - the senses, and the
information itself - the cognitions. What we do with all this depends very
much on our belief systems and on our mission in life. Organizations also
have belief systems and missions - these come from the executive - the brain.
If the brain is not in tune with the other parts, for example, the feet and
the eyes, it will never know that the reason it fell was because there was a
rock on the ground.

I believe that learning, even for organizations, is somewhat of a natural
process and that if we remove the barriers as Senge, Argyris, Hawkins and
others suggest, that it will happen more readily.

Yet learning can be a fuzzy notion, one that many people have difficulty
conceptualizing. I believe it is important to be clear in terms of what we
mean by learning. This is easier if we answer some core questions like -
learning what? learning where? learning how? and why learning?

I would be interested in having these ideas bounced around by others,
particularly practitioners.

Iris Tiemessen.
(nee Berdrow)
Western Business School,
University of Western Ontario