Re: Leadership Can Be Taught? LO2169

Andrew Moreno (
Thu, 20 Jul 1995 13:47:37 -0700 (PDT)

Replying to LO2134 --

>Date: Mon, 17 Jul 1995 09:47:09 +0059 (EDT)
>From: Jim Michmerhuizen <>
>Subject: Re: Leadership Can Be Taught? LO2134

>Oh yes I do like that. This observation of yours ties together
>a surprising range of things, Andrew, from Aristotle's definition of
>comedy to that little side-thread of a week or so ago on the "Feast of

Can you specify what those things are that I've tied together? I
want to flip through each of the books on them. I haven't studied
Aristotle yet so I don't know what you're referring to.

>Let me articulate some of this if I can:

>a) there's a critical common logical component to all those four stages
> or levels of learning you mentioned: each one "objectifies" the one
>below it. Each one works by seeing entire patterns in the one below, and
>taking control of them.

The way to put this to good use is to pre-determine where humor
would be useful and then find a way to have it be there when you
need it.

It's easy for me to say that I'll remember to have humor, but in
some situations, like when a person's boss refuses a raise or
when a report needs to be revised and rewritten with new
material 2 hours before deadline, it's not so easy to be
humorous. I guess you do this naturally. Other people don't.

>b) humor and wit do that too, as Aristotle pointed out and Robin Williams
> exemplifies.

>c) so, clearly, a way to get people to climb up one full learning level is
> to make jokes about what they're doing right now at the level they're
>currently on. Sometimes, the spontaneous occurrence of group humor is a
>signal that a learning shift is about to take place.

I know this stuff works on an individual level. It's not clear
to me if it works the same on a group level. It's interesting
that you brought up group humor because Daniel Aronson,
co-author of the "Fifth Discipline", wrote to me on Learning-Org
that Learning V isn't possible in one individual. Learning V
requires a group of people.

I think that another set of distinctions needs to be made at the
group level for groups to have systematic control over the group
learnings that occur. I think somebody has figured this out, but
I'm not sure. I haven't learned this yet.

I guess it's easy to say in hindsight, "Humor, I could have
thought of that," because it seems so simple. The funny thing
about simple things is that they often work.

It's easy for people to say, "Pshaw, learning III, how is that
significant?" However, in any field where any sort of induction
or synthesis of new ideas is involved, call it vision or
enlightenment or whatever, tools like humor can have a big impact.
Consider all the "serious" scientific researchers in the world.

>d) I -- and I'll bet a _lot_ of other people too -- sometimes do this
> almost without thinking: make a joke, and before the laughter has even
>died down, say something like "well, actually, as funny as that sounds,
>we can probably learn something from this...".

It seems really simple. Humor. Who would have thought that
comedians could be enlightened? I think the general definition
of enlightenment is to have a quiet head like a monk in
meditation. I've got a different definition. Mozart probably
didn't have a quiet head. I bet he had whole symphonies of music
playing in his head.

The statements, words, tones of voice and gestures people make
give a lot of clues as to how they are internally organized and
how they learn.

Some of the things I'm wondering about right now are;
"I was struck by a thought," the head snapping back when people
get an "Aha!" [pointed finger up in the air]
or the particular rise in intonation people have when they have
an epiphany, an instance of learning III, "Ohhhh, I get it!" or

If it's possible to get people to climb learning levels by
getting them to make jokes about what they're doing right now,
maybe reproducing their tones of voice when they have an "aha!"
could get them to climb learning levels too. Who knows?

>Thanks for your sharp observations.


Andrew Moreno <>

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