Spirited Debate on LO LO6707

William J. Hobler, Jr. (bhobler@cpcug.org)
Mon, 15 Apr 1996 20:49:42 -0400

Replying to LO6612 --

Wow! What a rich subject for a learning community to take on. It is, to
me, one of those subjects that coalesces the subject of learning
organizations. What an opportunity you have all taken hold of and moved
far. My visualization of what has gone on in the last week or so is like
a spiral nebula in which the arms are the disciplines and the subject of
Spirited Debate is the force drawing them toward a center, coalescing onto
centers of knowledge. Grandiose? Let me try to express this more simply.

This discussion has addressed:
Heated debate -- Strong advocacy
Facts observable -- Facts Selected
Conclusions reached by two people, same facts -- different conclusions
Conflict as dysfunctional -- as an opportunity to learn
Emotions (feelings) as interference -- emotion as a source of energy.
The need to attack or react with fight or flight -- Respect and trust
negating attacks
Observable facts -- conclusions stated as facts
et. al.

It seems to me the whole system of disciplines can be viewed in the light
of this thread and the contributions made to it. It has given me an
opportunity to seek deeply into myself and reflect on my response to these
ways of viewing a conversation. Look at both sides of the hyphens and
consider what a LO is.

One of the states of being that characterizes a learning community is the
lack of the attack behavior. Therefore, there is no need for a fight or
flight response. What replaces the attack behavior? It is dialog, the
balance of advocacy and inquiry, -- one of the disciplines we purport to

Can one advocate and inquire without emotion? I don't think so. I know I
can't. What I do know is that I have a responsibility to form my response
to another person and not permit my emotion to shape the response as an
attack on the person. It is my responsibility to maintain the balanced
advocacy and inquiry of and into ideas. It is my responsibility to
continue the dialog to resolution acceptable to both. This is a product of
self mastery. While I may believe that self mastery will tame un-called
for emotional reactions, and that attaining a meditative capability to
completely let go of the trappings of my cultural background would remove
emotions, I don't expect to reach this state in this lifetime. I fall
back to the responsibility to advocate and inquire.

Are learning organizations without emotion. I don't think so. There is a
passion for the ideas expressed here, a joy. There is respect, regard -
yes a love - for the people who share their stories and their intellect.
This is a manifestation of the energy in these people and in the ideas
here. In an learning organization isn't this the energy that moves them,
moves us, from goal to goal? Isn't it the shared vision that focuses the

If I take this sharing behavior as mine, and I encourage you to adapt the
same, are we not moving from self mastery to building a shared vision of
how we, as a community, should act? Are we not jointly living mutually
agreed values? I wonder if this is close to Quinn's (Ishmael) definition
of culture - something like -- a people living their story.

I don't think that these acts of building community occur spontaneously.
Someone must initiate them - a leader must take the first steps into the
unknown. After that the community must support those behaviors that
reinforce the agreed values. I don't know who the leader was that first
started this list, whoever, thank you very much. I do know that there are
a lot of folks that act to preserve and build the learning community that
is this list. We do that, contributor and lurker alike. This discussion,
sometimes dialog, is a perfect example of people stepping forward and
questioning behaviors and responses to them. That this is possible
indicates the level of respect and honor each has for the others. That
the discussion has not fallen into cynic vitriolic attacks (on people or
ideas) indicates care for the individual, the content, the process and the
community (the whole system).

As a system some of the reinforcing loops can be identified. Respectful
inquiry reinforces the self image of the questioned person and aids their
personal self mastery. Strong advocacy without counter attack reinforces
the concept of openness. Advocacy of and inquiry into ideas instead of
attacking people and intentions builds the confidence that allows people
to risk the "strange" idea (thinking out of the box?). The breadth of
subjects, the questions and ideas raised, says that there are no real
limits on the conversation, no unmentionable subjects within the limits of
the agreed subject of Learning Organizations. These all indicate that we
have some shared image of the goal for this list.

Finally, I cannot end this rambling without commenting on the need for
continued responsive leadership that holds a mirror up for all of us to
see what we are accomplishing. Someone commented here recently that a
leader must define reality. In many ways Rick has provided the definition
for us. However much he has allowed us to shape our own reality, when, in
his judgment, we have wandered too far he has gently brought us home.
This too is a service that leaders provide, they make course corrections
when the team wanders too far off the mark. I have been subject of such
gentle prodding and appreciated Rick's sensitivity to me and the ideas he
(correctly I think) asked to be taken off line. Do without some guidance
for this list, I don't care to -- thank you. Nor would I wish to serve in
the moderator's role. With the confidence I have in Rick's capabilities I
would ask that he long continue in this role.

Just The job is not done until we are humbled
Bill by what we accomplished together.


"William J. Hobler, Jr." <bhobler@cpcug.org>

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