TQM & LOs LO11286

Michael McMaster (Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk)
Thu, 5 Dec 1996 01:58:27 +0000

Replying to LO11258 --

Ben, as usual, makes some statements and asks some questions that are
enticing and provocative. In this latest post, they revolve around "What
is quality in the information age?" I take this at face value as
intriguing and add to it "What is quality in a living system?"

What is quality in a bird? In the bark of a dog? In the operation of an
ant colony?

Ben asks:
> Is it possible, that in the future, our quality
> systems will be more about how we are structured -- and the theories
> behind those structures -- than work processes themselves?

Maybe it is just our systems (quality systems will disappear) will be more
creative about how they are structured. The quality of output will be
measured as indicators of how the systems/structures are working.

I'm not sure if information "replication" is the key distinction of living
systems. I think not. Maturana and Varela, amongst others, seem to be
saying that it is recreation of information that is important. But this
is not the same as "replication" I think. Or do you mean this and/or
include this Ben?

I think that the goal might be more on the order of how can we constantly
integrate, re-integrate and adjust our knowledge (or models or what have
you) so that information is transformative and constantly connected.

The challenge is to create systems, like other natural living systems,
that can take different information and knowledge and use it to produce
the same result AND take the same information and use it to produce
different results.

> And I'm not even going to bring up how we collectively interpret and act
> on new information (which is the source of new knowledge). Until we've
> answered the questions I've asked, I see no point in trying to figure out
> the other questions.

Ben, I think that this is in the wrong order. I know it's more difficult
to think about but the collective is not a mere extension of the
individual and, it may be, that we can't understand the individual at all
until we understand the collective. This I believe.

The processes of collective interpretation are emergent and I think that
you've got something powerful to say about this in that the elements and
flows from which it emerges are at least related to dialogue,
communication and what you have previously written about regarding message

The area that interests me the most here are those designs which are
redundant and which increase information flows beyond threshold points of
control where they "spill over" into emergent possibilities. Is this
inherent in your design or a step too far?

Michael McMaster :   Michael@kbdworld.com
"I don't give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity 
but I'd die for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." 
            attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes 

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