System Changing Itself LO6306
Fri, 29 Mar 1996 22:09:49 -0500

Replying to LO6279 --

I got quite interesting responses to my question about what Deming might
have meant when he said that a system cannot understand itself.

One of my favorite responses pointed out that water has a fairly stable
response to temperature changes until about 32 F degrees (my apologies to
those of you in the rest of the world where water freezes at 0 C). "You
can know all about water but not understand ice."

We are perhaps undergoing a similar change in terms of our organizations?
So much of the old management methods (the old system) do not apply to the
transformation to new systems. That is, a system cannot understand

As is the intention in these forums, I learned by simply sharing what
puzzled me. Thanks to all who shared comments on A System Cannot
Understand Itself.

Ron Davison (, video producer of "A Change in Thinking:
Systems Thinking, Learning, & Intellectual Capital"

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