Re: Metaphor and Mental Models

From: John Conover <>
Subject: Re: Metaphor and Mental Models
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 95 20:43 PST

CAVALERI  writes:

 > In response to Ivan Blanco's observations regarding the precondition of
 > organizational democracy for organizational learning, I am inclined to
 > agree. Several articulate advocates of the systems approach, Russ Ackoff
 > (1994) and the British theorist M.C. Jackson have posited similar
 > views.  Organizational learning processes are by their very nature
 > experimental and relatively risk in terms of discrete, short-term
 > operational outcomes.  The power dynamics of non-democratic institutions
 > do not encourage either risk taking or experimentation in areas that are
 > likely to result in sanctions from those in power or whose bonuses depend
 > on short-run financial performance.  More likely, the risk taking and
 > experimentation, I suspect, will center around indentifying ways to
 > "beat" the non-democratic system.
 >      I would also like to propose that another pre-condition to
 > organizational learning, along with some measure of democracy, is
 > the facility for what Peter Checkland refers to as 'Soft' systems thinking.
 > My sense is that the two, democracy and 'soft' systems thinking are somehow
 > synergistic.
 >  -----


    address = "New York, New York",
    author = "Paul Hoffman",
    publisher = "Fawcett Crest",
    title = "Archimedes' Revenge",
    year = 1993}

on "One man One Vote," for a "light reading" on some theoretical
issues with the democratic process in groups. For a more formal
approach see:

    address = "New York, New York",
    author = "R. Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa",
    publisher = "John Wiley & Sons",
    title = "Games and Decisions",
    year = 1957}

on "Group Decision Making." These are related to the original works of
the economist Kenneth Arrow, of "Impossibility Theorem" fame. It
involves the intransitives of setting priorities in groups. It turns
out that "insincere voting," issues are a problem that is not easily
addressed. I don't know of any management schema, BPR, learning, MBO,
etc., that address this issue effectively. This, IMHO, is an often
overlooked issue in the practical application of most management
paradigms, particularly at the executive level, where determination
of priorities become critical.



John Conover,,

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