Complexity & Hermeneutics LO7399

Michael McMaster (
Sun, 12 May 1996 11:54:45 +0000

Replying to LO7384 --

John raises the issue of hermenteutics and catches my interes. This
is a term and thread that seemed to gain little following in the
past. Is it coming back?

John, I'd like to hear more about what you're wanting to reveal here.

Hermeneutics is part of what Don Lavoie at George Mason University's
Program on Social and Organisational Learning refers to as
"interpretive approaches". That is, a dialogue based approach that
seeks ever greater understanding, in a social context, by entering
conversation for the purpose of exploring.

I think that one of the central problems of the operation of
corporations and other formal institutions today is that they have
increased in complexity beyond the ability of those who comprise them
- managers and employees alike - to understand. (Or, as John
Warfield might say, corporations are complex because they have passed
the ability of those within them to understand them.)

The processes by which such an understanding can be developed are
those of hermeneutic dialogue. If a text based or "original
statement" or "initial formulation" or powerful question(s) can be
created around which the dialogue begins, then a continuing increase
in understanding and lively dialogue develops.

This "text" provides a base which can be returned to
without requiring that it be returned to. From here, in my experience, the
dialogue with a little education and coaching in the practices of
hermeneutic processes will lead to first a greater shared
understanding and then to exploration of what is possible beyond that
initial understanding.

John Warfield's processes will be of great help in the first
instance. Especially if the current state of the organisation is one
of confusion or chaos and results which are expected don't happen or
the same problems keep recurring.

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


Michael McMaster <>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>