TQM & LOs LO11303

Benjamin B. Compton (bcompton@geocities.com)
Fri, 06 Dec 1996 09:37:01 -0700

Replying to LO11286 --

Mike has raised some really interesting and important issues. I like
this thinking a lot.

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

These are great examples. Let's continue the thought process here, and
apply this type of thinking to leadership. Who's the leader of the
ecology? Who's the leader of an organism? Who's the leader of the global
economy? Who's the leader of the Internet?

Life seems to survive and THRIVE without explicit leadership. It would
seem that this occurs because of the "organizing principles and
relationships" that exist in living systems. This concept is critical to
some of my theories, which include information replication.

> 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?

Here's what I mean by replication. An organism is able to evole and
self-renew because of the biological process known as mitosis (the
division or replication of cells). This process is governed (or at least
influenced) by the organisms genetic code, or DNA. Mitosis has much to do
with self-renewal. For example, mitosis is what allows my hand to heal
when it is cut or seriously scrapped. Evolution occurs when there are
changes in the genetic code, allowing an organism to evolve and adapt to
its environment.

Using this as a metaphor, we could say that our organizations genetic code
is its theories; and information are the cells that need to replicate.
When we organize in such a way that information can be effectively and
quickly replicate, we have a structure that is able to self-renew (and, in
brief, I think such a structure will reflect some type of network,
although I think the topology for the network will vary from organization
to organization). And when our theories embody the value of
information/knowledge, and the realization that our theories will need to
evolve, then we have an organization that has evolutionary capacities.
(This is especially important, in my mind, as our theories are used to
interpret both new and old information -- as Mike states in his book.)

That is what I mean when I say information must be replicated.

Does this exclude the recreation, reinterpretation, or recombination of
information within the organization? Absolutely not. In fact I believe
that these activities are major sources of learning, of creating a
"genetic" history that is reflective and descriptive of our capacity to
evolve. . .to survive. . . and to THIRVE!

> 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.

I couldn't have said it better. What is it that allows us to use the same
information to produce different results? The way we interpret
information? A change in our organization's values? I'm not sure I can
identify all the factors that lead to such transformative activities.

> > 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
> systems.

Valid point. The design methodology was emergent. I'd like to add a few
things to this comment, but this is becoming a really long 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?

This is precisely what we need to achieve in the design of a network or a
messaging system. When I design a messaging system redundancy (by this I
mean redundant connections and links) is something I always want to
create, despite the increase in complexity, because it ensures that
information can flow freely even when there are "problems" with the
system. But a messaging system is not something that can, by itself,
create emergent possibilities. That's up to the people using the system.

Ben Compton
The Accidental Learning Group                  Work: (801) 222-6178
Improving Business through Science and Art     bcompton@geocities.com

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