Wheatley Dialogue LO10259

Arthur Battram (apb@cityplex.demon.co.uk)
Mon, 30 Sep 1996 10:52:43 +0100

Replying to LO10241 --

replying to
>From: Anne R Tyler <tylerar@unm.edu>
>Date: Sun, 29 Sep 1996 13:24:30 -0600 (MDT)
>Breaking things down into parts is very useful for re-creating or changing
>the parts of a whole system. The difficulty as I see it too frequently is
>that the boundaries of the "whole" system are too narrowly drawn. Thus,
>the parts are not the correct ones to be "fixing".

I agree, and there's more, and it's a bit mind-boggling, because there are
systems that can never have their boundaries drawn widely enough.

an ecosystem is a system without clearly definable boundaries- it can do
this trick because it is trapping energy from the sun, kinda like [to use
a poor machine metaphor] the tap running more water in than the plug hole
in the bath is letting out- metabalance or whatever.

the question is: if we view organisations as ecosystems, or as parts of
ecosystems, can we think systems with fuzzy boundaries? I'm trying to...

one implication for system-tinkerers is this- if you can only change the
tap's setting, OR only the plughole size, which do you go for?

I'm setting up this as an analogy to different types of intervention in
different parts of an organisation: its clear what happens if you tinker
with either one of the bath prameters isn't it? neither really helps

my possible answer to this paradox is based on bateson's ideas about
paradox- ask me I you're interested...


from Arthur Battram, organiser of the LGMB project 'Tools for Learning': helping local authorities to apply complexity concepts to personal and organisational learning. 'Learning from Complexity' pack available November '96, for details email me: apb@cityplex.demon.co.uk "complexity is in here... and simplicity is out there...if we want it to be..."

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