Organisation and community LO7202

Michael McMaster (
Mon, 6 May 1996 05:45:52 +0000

Replying to LO7152 --

John, thanks for sharing the Vickers definition of "organisation".
What I like most about it is that it defines the entity by its
relationships rather than formal, legal or matters trivial,
accidental or material (physical).

It makes them emergent from human interaction which is both
intentional and self-generated. We can see that we are dealing with
conversations and non-material relationships from his definition.

I also prefer the word institution or corporation or some such so
that we can talk about the phenomenon of organisation without
confusing it with the specific entities we are talking about.

I think, however, that the idea of roles and clarity of roles may not
be appropriate for full development of organisational intelligence.
I'm travellling and don't have a dictionary to refer to but when I
hear people use "role" in corporate affairs, they seem to mean
something other than performance related position.

I think that what will replace "role" is contract or agreement. That
is, a corporation (or voluntary human institution of intent) might be
thought of as "a network of committed speaking and listening".

An institution comes into existence from patterns of such committed
speaking and listening where there is a recognised identity. The
identity can be found in the patterns of committed speaking which
generate an "inside world" or identity and an "outside world" or
marketplace, customers, etc. Accidental or temporary commitments to
not make a corporation. (They may make a marketplace.)

This approach, I think, has most of your great questions retain their
relevance and maybe some new ones emerge. The changes it makes is
that when considering them we are not dealing with "role" and
implications of authority or forbidden territory (ie. "not to usurp
roles of others").

It opens up or deepens questions such as "What is the importance of
self-respect, honouring ones word, self-generated action,
independence, self-responsibility and community awareness?" Other
questions that come to mind are:
- How can one be responsible for the relationships of others? (say,
building a community where one is supported in honouring one's word)
- What sort of systems support being able to see the affect of one's
agreements on the larger whole?
- What is the work of an executive or manager if the corporation is
network of committed speaking and listening amongst self-responsible
and self-generative human beings?

Michael McMaster :
book cafe site :
Intelligence is the underlying organisational principle
of the universe. Heraclitus


Michael McMaster <>

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