Introduction

A living system

If we assume, as we did in chapter 13, that our learning organization is a living system, then there are dilemmas which arise from this:

  • any biological or social system is differentiated in its function, yet these need to be integrated if the whole is to develop
  • its members must have some local freedom and discretion, yet all remain subject to the captain's authority and command
  • orders must go from the top down, yet these cannot maintain their quality unless information goes from the bottom up to educate decision-makers
  • the captain empowers his subordinates to make certain judgements and decisions, yet expects their exercise of such responsibility to confirm his own power and influence in the ship
  • all crew members may legitimately compete with each other to achieve the skills of seamanship but all must cooperate in furthering the effectiveness of the ship itself

We could multiply such tensions indefinitely.

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