Evolution toward LO LO5787

Charles Parry (74150.236@compuserve.com)
22 Feb 96 06:52:00 EST

Replying to LO5743 --

I am forwarding this posting from "If" to the list. re - EVOLUTION AND LEARNING
(Evolution toward LO , Use of Metaphors)

"If" attached this to his post:
>Does this help you or anyone else you choose to copy this to. Feel free on
copying by the way. As soon as I have familiarised myself with the unwritten
codes that enable this list I will be seeking to join the exploration.
Thanks for the pleasure of the exchange to date.

From: INTERNET:PewleyFort@eworld.com
Subject: Nature, Nurture and equifinality

Charles, you introduced me to equifinality and asked:

> If we took on the age old nature vs nurture discussion and
aimed it at corporations as a genus, what might we delineate as being on the
nature side - as genetically determined behaviors and constraints, so to

You also offered me the magic of DNA = Do Not Adjust. Thanks may I quote it

Let me try and respond

No. What is it? It occurs to me as convergent evolution. Just as
plesiosaurs, dolphins and sharks end up with the same design for power
swiming/ preying so - have I got it - different people end up with similar
constructs on the world. If I read you correctly we have ended up, from
different starting points, with similar questions about the
genusOrganisation. Any more enlightenment concerning equifinality will be
received with interest. I lay no claim to having arrived anywhere
different. I seek only to convey and share my journey.

Nature Vs Nurture.
I was once a geologist and have inherited some very specific distinctions
in the matter. Let me try and express them. Nature occurs as pure 'genes'.
I do not see organisations as genetic. Immanuel Kant said "Nature employs
two means to separate people - language and religion". We might add to the
list but what this represents for me is that 'culture', 'language',
'paradigm', 'tradition' etc. are more powerful determinants of
organisational/ cultural genera [or phyla, classes and the rest of it]
than are genes [nature]. Hence organisations [widest sense] are the
product of their memes, not their genes. But the people in them are the
product, also, of their genes which have their own dynamic: replication.

The most powerful example I can conceive are 'kings' and other of that
ilk. They thrived on, and sought to perpetuate, a memetic pattern in the
world which roughly translates as 'the divine right of kings'.
[Equifinality - European monarchs, Ming dynasty emperors, modern day CEOs
and dare one say the odd US president have evolved the same view on the
world]. The memetic imperative is promulgated by minds accepting this as
'the way things are'. The genetic imperative of the king is basically
reproduction. Over time this causes the king's genesto be diluted in a
wider gene pool. Genetic imperatives [ nature] actually counter the
tendency to 'cultural' [I would say memetic.] speciation. No 'ruling
elite' has ever suceeded in building a genetically isolated species
because those who enjoy power in a political system cannot resist their
genetic drivet. It is in their genetic interest to destroy the 'memetic'
status quo. Is this just acomplicated way of saying what you and your
colleague were expressing in the article you referred to about leaders not
wishing to challenge the structure in which they are succesful?.

Generalising to the organisational genus, it seems to me that to obey
genetic [nature's] imperatives [food, security, replication - basically
the 'hygiene factors'] people in organisations have to conform to certain
codes of behaviour, to salute the flag, accept and conform with prevailing
norms. This by the way is not, to make them, or the norms wrong. Without
norms we would not have organisations. Yet the norms [memes] are bent on
their own replication which will not always coincide with the replication
of the genes present in the same organisation. Suicide cults and
sacrificing virgins offer extreme examples of the maintenance of the
prevailing mental code interfering with genetics.

Getting back to your query, what constrains behaviours in organisations
are, I suspect, not so much genetically determined constraints as
memetically determined constraints. Do Not Adjust the prevailing belief
set [aka paradigm, industrial recipe, mental model, theory in use, meme,
language, metaphor, mindset, world view, unwritten rule, tradition etc.],
where the DNA is written in language and cultural artefact, not
ribonucleic code. Preserve the prevailing paradigm even if its killing us.




Charles Parry <74150.236@compuserve.com>

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