Life in Organizations LO9671

Joe Katzman (
Sun, 1 Sep 96 20:46:01 -0500

Replying to LO9576 --

Rol Fessenden writes:

> Some of the disagreement going on in this thread is over the acceptance
> of responsibility versus 'acceptance of blame'. My focus is clear.
> Blaming is not a useful activity, whether it be to blame management, the
> system, or the participants in the organization.

I tend to agree. Some of the best quotes I've ever seen on this subject come
from a sci-fi book called "David's Sling" (Marc Steigler, New York: Baen Books
c.1988, distributed by Simon & Schuster). It is a good fictional exploration
of the industrial age/information age shift and some potential implications,
and the book has an awful lot of interesting ideas in it that are relevant to
Learning Organizations. That's why I value it so highly even though many of my
other sci-fi novels are much better novels.

__Some examples:__

"Uncle Nathan had the most complex view of blame, though in some sense, it
was also the simplest. Blame, Uncle Nathan contended, was a concept without
value in either Industrial Age or Information age socieities. The key question
was not whom to blame, but rather, whose behaviour to modify so that the
problem did not arise again."

"People did not usually pursue evil purposes with thoughtful intent, though
they might pursue evil purposes while fiercely avoiding thoughts about
intentions. The key lay in cultural engineering. Non-Zetetic cultures were
always designed to give men rationalizations for not thinking about the
inconsistencies of that culture. Given the right cultural environment, you
could shape the adaptable human being to profoundly unsane purposes."

"In the Information Age, the first step to sanity is FILTERING. Filter the
Information; extract the knowledge.
Filter first for substance.
Filter second for significance. These filters protect against advertising.
Filter third for reliability. This filter protects against politicians.
Filter fourth for completeness. This protects against the media."

"Let accuracy triumph over victory."

"It's not how you play the game, but whether everybody wins or everybody

"Know your enemy; he probably does not know himself."

The 'filtering' quote remains one of the most useful things I have ever read
anywhere. Steigler's discussion of the 3 main types of decisions and their
interrelations (not quoted here) are not far behind.

Joe Katzman, MBA
The more you know, the more you can imagine."


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