TQM & LOs LO11228

Mon, 2 Dec 1996 23:48:18 -0500

Replying to LO11221 --

At provides a wonderful example of how the obvious solution to a problem
was really not a solution at all. This is a problem across many different
disciplines, and one that is particularly common in the design and
evolution of an organization.

The question is, how do we get managers and executives to learn from such
an example? (This is a serious question despite it's simplicity;
heretofore the answer has evaded me.)

> Large parts of Africa is covered with soils rich in iron . The iron gives
> the soils their red colour. Iron phaspate is insoluable. Thus these soils
> should exhibit a phospate deficiency (stunted growth like nitrogen
> deficiency). Yet some of these soils are still covered by hundreds of
> different species of trees. Unfortunately, deforestation took place on a
> devastating scale. So some conservation minded people began to replant
> seedlings of these trees on vast areas of bare red land. Very little came
> from it. The seedlings all died.

> The first research on the problem showed that the seedlings died as a
> result of a phosphate deficiency. This was predictable. Then sufficient
> phospate was given to the seedlings. They still died! This was
> unpredictable. It all happened according to the paradigm 'the engineer and
> his machine'. The phosphate had to be mined and concentrated by machines
> and to be moved to the site by machines. It all required a lot of external
> work because it would never have happened on its own accord. This costly
> nonspontaneous solution was worthless.

> Then additional research was done on the problem. It was finally
> discovered that most of these species of trees (complex plant) were
> involved in a mutual symbiosis relationship with a root fungus (simple
> plant). The fungus provided the tree roots with phosphate in a soluable
> form while the tree roots provided the fungus with other food. All the
> spores of this fungus die off after about two years if there are no tree
> roots to set live upon. In other words, deforestation of the land resulted
> in an irreversible destruction because the mutual symbiosis was destroyed.
> Inocculation of the soils around a seedling with minute amounts of soil
> containing the live spores of the fungus resulted in remarkable
> improvements. This all happened according to the paradigm 'the warden and
> his wildlife'.



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