Hold on ...let's think LO11614

Tue, 31 Dec 1996 02:22:17 -0500

Replying to LO11609 --

This thread has taken many interesting twists and turns in its short life.
Interestingly it is "divided" into another thread, "Technology and Values"
which has been equally enjoyable. Aside for noticing how many of the
threads, including this one, emulate mitosis (the division and replication
of cells), I'd like to make a few observations.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the book "A Man Called
Intrepid" is a superb example of a Learning Organization, especially if
you're interested in how organizations evolve, or how they can be designed
for intelligence. I read this book for the first time 11 years ago. It has
had a recurring and poignant impact on me, and the comments I've made in
this thread reflect this fact.

I'd like to quote the introduction of the book, which was written by
William Stephenson -- the man who was known as Intrepid. He was the head
of British Security Coordination (BSC), an innocuous name for a potent and
covert intelligence organization.

He asks the question, "Will the democracies consent to their own
survival?" The question has equal importance to organizations: Will our
organizations consent to their own survival? He then makes an wonderful
observation: "When the history of World War II is revised in light of the
secret war, this may be the most striking element: the great engines of
destruction did not determine the outcome. The invincibility of free
people and the ingenuity of free minds did. I believe this as I believe
today that the spirit of human resistance refuses to be crushed by mere

And so it is for our organizations. Our technology will not determine
whether we continue to survive, the people within the organization will be
the determining factor. I'm in the middle of writing a chapter in my book
about this topic. Technology may provide a communication infrastructure
that allows relationships to unfold in ways that overcome spacial
boundaries, but that is all it is: A medium through which relationships
can flourish.

I suggest that this list is a superb example of this. None of us cares
that there are physical wires that connect us together. All we really care
about is that we can communicate with, and learn from each other.

Science will never provide the complete solution to our social, economic,
and organizational problems. We must rely on relationships for solutions.
As people begin to develop relationship, natural communities will appear.
These communities then become the building blocks for our society. As many
of our organizations span the globe, we have the power to create a web of
global relationships where shared values and common beliefs can exist. It
is in this context that I believe we can evolve morally as quickly as we
do technologically, especially since technology can facilitate a global
discussion of morality.

As simple as this sounds, I'm not confident that our corporate structures
provide the type of environment where such dialogue can safely occur. The
cut-throat nature of business must be supplanted by a genuine desire to
create a future where disease, ignorance, and poverty are artifacts of a
former day.

I cannot help but believe if our organizations reject such responsibility,
we are in danger of destroying ourselves with our own inventions.


Benjamin B. Compton bbcompton@aol.com

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