Conspiritorial LO teams LO7293
Wed, 8 May 1996 08:02:23 -0400

Replying to LO7240 --

In a message dated 96-05-07 18:50:11 EDT, you write:

>What Argyris has proposed is in many ways for me still very radical.
>He starts by hypothesizing about how we learn in organizations as
>social environments, thus Model I. He then constructs an alternative
>model, not as an antithesis or opposite to the first, but more focused
>on self-consciously achieving meaningful learning, Model II. This
>basic scheme is still, in my estimate, unsurpassed as an archetype.

As a fellow admirer or Argyris, and in agreement with the idea that many
of his ideas have crept into Senge's world, it's important to me that both
of these fine individuals be categorized as describers and analysts.

In the past I have spoken and corresponded with Argyris, and attempted to
do so with Senge (three times, with no luck), in order to deal with
questions having to do with design and choice.

Once I had a long discussion with the late Bill Linvill (head of eng-econ
systems at Stanford in the 70s) about why social scientists almost never
seem to take a design orientation. Bill chided me for wanting to make
everybody look alike, but in his view the social scientist was like the
painter of a mural in many ways. The goal was to show a broad canvas
filled with activity--not necessarily to explain it, or even discuss
changing it. Moreover, he also had a distinctive style that didn't
readily lend itself to connecting his work with that of any other social

It is then left to the problem-solver or issue-resolver or
situation-changer to make whatever can be made out of the mural; perhaps a
good thing to try, to take advantage of the broad vista that is there.

The bottom line is this: do not assume that whatever the social scientist
describes is the way things have to be. At best it may be the way things
are. But the first route to making things better is to understand what
they are. Once you gain that insight, it's time to think about the design
mode of life; and you will have a very hard time getting any "true" social
scientist into that mode, because the brotherhood doesn't recognize the

Likewise, whoever draws on and simplifies the social scientist's
outpouring, has the same handicap. The new person gets no design
knowledge, no design suggestions, no help with design processes, and
little two-way conversation.

John N. Warfield


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