Use LO principles to design an Internet? LO11528
Sat, 21 Dec 1996 09:05:22 -0500

Replying to LO11366 --

Your inquiry has prompted me to think of some possibilities for moving the
IT project forward. Here are two of them:

1- create an IT Money System and give away IT-bucks to employees when the
steering committee members catch them doing something right. These bucks
could then be exchanged for goods and services, similar to the Ithaca, NY
Community Enrichment Plan. For details, write to Ithaca Money, Box 6578,
Ithaca, NY 14851.

2- Promote the value of conversation as a core IT business practice. All
of us have had at one time or another experienced a conversation that has
had a major impact on us, one that has sparked new insight and helped us
to see a problem in a radically new light. This view of conversation
contradicts the basic organizational tenet of *stop talking and get to
work* because the underlying assumption is that conversation takes away
from productive time.

Yet I have been discovering that the talking and network of conversations
actually catalyzes action. Through conversation we discover who cares
about what, and who will take accountability for the next steps. It is
the means through which requests are made and commitments are made.
(Etienne Wenger and his colleagues at The Institute for Research on
Learning (IRL) have confirmed the centrality of collaborative conversation
when they studied how learning takes place in an organization. They found
that knowledge creation is basically a social rather than an individual
process. *Communities of Practice* is what IRL call this foundation for
the social process of learning. This MIT Center for Organizational
Learning has also been pursuing the role of conversation in a business
setting. There is also the *groupware* technologies of Peter and Trudy
Johnson-Lenz. Also see Weber's article in HBR *What's So New About the
Economy*, where he asserts that conversation is the lifeblood of the new

I hope this helps.
Frank Voehl (


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