Wheatley Dialogue LO10240

John Paul Fullerton (jpf@mail.myriad.net)
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 13:50:16 +0000

Replying to LO10224 --

> Yet there must be reason why we break things down into parts -
> easier to understand? easier to coordinate or manage? or do we
> feel that working across the whole is so difficult we will only
> ever end up with the 'lowest common denominator' rather than the
> possibility of whole system synergystic alignment?????

Yesterday while away from the house walking, I began to think about a view
that had been expressed to me in philosophy classes a few years ago. The
view has to do with pragmatism as formulated by early 19th century
American philosophers. The exact focus that I was remembering and thinking
about was the importance of Experience in thought. (Two philosophers that
may have emphasized this were William James and John Dewey; I haven't
actually seen much of what they've written; my hearing about Experience
was from the teacher.) What follows experience is reflection and through
that process, the intellectual richness of thought is expressed (as I
understand the theory).

To put it in simple and direct terms, we experience things and reflect
upon the experiences, and that's the nature of thoughtful life.

It so happened that, while thinking about this, I was walking into an area
basically bounded by a highway and underpass, a cross street that went
under the highway, and a shopping area beside the highway. The most direct
approach to where I wanted to go was alongside the service road (toward
the cross street, beside the highway) to the cross street and under the
bridge. However, I had learned that when I went that way, that the railing
of another bridge closely bounded the street and brought me more near
traffic than I would want to be or that seemed appropriate. Through time
(taking these journeys maybe two or three times a month) I had rerouted
the way I took within the boundaries to get to my destination.

I took a parallel means of getting to the cross street rather than walking
along the service road.

Thinking about experience and reflection, I realized that no
intellectualism was involved in the choices made through time. I may have
been partly embarrassed at interferring with traffic and exposing myself
to possible hurt. There was another way, though I had at first thought
that it might be more troublesome and without advantage. From the one
difficulty, somehow I tried the other path and found that it was easy to
follow and seemed less dangerous. So I began to take the other path.

I had some experiences and was reflective on both those experiences while
having and after having them as well as mindful of things that I had been
taught (including my view that my life should prove to be of use, thus
that I should not carelessly endanger it). Beside that perspective I had
factual knowledge (there's another way) and apparently a limiting opinion
about the parallel path. Through immediate need, and probably because the
opinion wasn't completely limiting, I tried the other path and found that
it seemed much safer.

All that was done, in my opinion, without theorizing or trying to optimize
my travel experience - certainly without trying to consider the total
journey as a whole and improve it systematically. Yet the same
improvements could be expected throughout the process as I have occasion
to learn of other options and have need or choose differently than before.

Imagine that factory work is the same. If one guy does all the lifting all
day, he gets tired, so I guess we're going to have to distribute the
physical labor. If station A sends its output across the floor to station
B, then station C starts cussing because its work has been set back.
Counsel station C, and begin to look for another way. Another way can be
found (and almost certainly will be) unless there is a forced maintenance
of the same process. Thus through time, necessary options are installed
within a system that has been pieced together.

Why do we "break things into parts"? We experience them as parts;
experience and (literal) vision take in the immediate situation. We can't
keep more than 9 things in mind at a time (I've heard). Something that is
seen is easier to reason about than something that is not seen, especially
if it's technical and/or requires agreement with other imaginations. I see
now that Julie's question included a reference to my answer (not my means
of answering :) "easier to coordinate or manage". To improve the part of
my journey that was described, I have to improve that part (if I am to
take the journey in the same way). At the same time, the whole journey
(and more) is in mind when I think of the walk, and the journey is routed
in terms of whether I choose the problem of taking the bridge over the
highway or underneath it or just run across (don't be tempted to try it!).

My comments do not "reach a conclusion" though I expect that Dr. Deming
could have said, "That's fine; (thank goodness that boy is not
management); let's begin to see if management can improve the system now
by applying a higher level perspective and statistical measurements to see
what is not evident to causual experience and observation." He would
probably use fewer words to state these few ideas!

Have a nice day
John Paul Fullerton


"John Paul Fullerton" <jpf@mail.myriad.net>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>