No Benchmarking in LOs LO7217
Mon, 6 May 1996 11:43:16 -0400

Recenlty, someone inquired into this group's experience at benchmarking
within learning organizations.

I'd like to put forth the notion that benchmarking has no role in learning
organizations. The aspect of learning what other organizations are doing,
how well and how they are doing it, etc., is healthy. Open systems get
input from a variety of sources. Benchmarking itself (setting goals for
processes others have had success with) seems to miss the point of a
learning organization.

Even if we were to determine that a cow had the "best" digestive system,
I'm not sure that we want to transplant that stomach into a greyhound.
The integrity of systems precludes including the "best" from a variety of
systems. What is best for your system may be mediocre -- or even
disastorous -- in mine.

The first rule of whole system change is to begin with the whole in mind.
You don't begin by improving the parts and expect to arrive at a desirable
whole. Benchmarking makes sense when you apply a mechanistic model to
organizations; it makes little sense if you are serious about applying a
social systems model.

Ron Davison (, video producer of "A Change in Thinking:
Systems Thinking, Learning & Intellectual Capital."  (619) 279-3917 -- San

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