Learning Organizations & TQM LO5459

Jan Lelie (100730.1213@compuserve.com)
08 Feb 96 15:58:42 EST

Replying to LO5414 --

Hi Stewart,

> Do you view LO as an extension of TQM? As a retooled version of
TQM? Are they two separate entities that shall never cross paths? Or,
can they exist together? Another possibility, many TQM efforts fail
because the organizational culture is not adequately addressed, or
companies are not willing to wait for the long term investment a
cultural change takes. The Learning Organization philosophy seems to
focus more heavily on culture. Is this a "lessons learned" item from

I'll give you my opinion.

I my experience TQM (and MRP and JIT and OPT and SPC and TOC) are
different manifestation of the same: developing people and organizations,
nowadays labeled (by some shrewed marketeers): Learning Organizations. The
difference, as i see it, is their view/angle on organizations. It is like
a pyramid: you can see only two sides at once. In my opinion MRP/JIT
focuses on inventory and trust, OPT/TOC focuses on capacities and
communication and SPC/TQM focuses on expenses and cooperation. LO, or
rather the five disciplines, show how these views are to be integrated for
continuous improvement. So, as these tools/concept/philosophies are in
various ways interconnected, the question of culture arises.

In general, i have been told, culture is a way of dealing with our
enviroment. So it is not a question of a 'good' or 'bad' culture, but a
question of a culture being 'in accordance' with its environment. The
problem here, at least in my opinion, is that a 'succesful' culture
changes its environment. On the long run, the system runs into its
boundaries, limits and we have, again, to adapt. It can come into a kind
of new equilibrium. Because the 'causes' of the successes have a shorter
'cycle time' than the 'causes' of the problems (which are, of course, the
past successes) and we tend to have a rather slow perception of a
situation, we first resist these changes. We try to make up for the
defects in the theory, culture etc. We try harder harder and harder. At
least, this is a way of interpreting the current situation in the west. I
am convinced that everything which is almost being forced on us, is really
a manifestation of insecurity, overshouting the weaknesses. It is as with
commercials: the all look alike because they copy the successes of their
precessors, thereby reducing their effect. And then suddenly we realize:
AHA, off course, but, yes, and a new culture is found which was already

Now what drives these changes? What are the changes in our environment?
Look around: these changes are caused by technological changes. As long as
technology changes, evolves, we have to adapt to different environments
and have to change culture. At the moment a very interesing change is
rapidly developing: communication without the traditional boundaries of
space and time, INTERNET. In my opninion it is this trend that 'causes'
the cultural change, moreover because managing information is the core
manifestation of an organization. If managers weren't busy managing
people, they would have time to manage information. The 'tools' from TQM,
JIT and TOC are somewhat more sophisticated, more modern in the way they
handle data but not really new.

I could go on, but i won't. Hope i've helped you,

Kind regards,

(c) (1996) LOGISENS - J.C. Lelie

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>