Saturday, September 03, 2005

Organization as Flux and Transformation

Just finished Morgan's chapter, "Unfolding Logic of Change," in Images of Organization. Fantastic stuff - it's making me question (again) my decision to study group dynamics in Belgium instead of complexity theory in Bath. Ah, well - learning is a journey, not a destination. It's not as if I cannot continue to study chaos and complexity on my own or in another context.

There is so much to dig into here. Here's a sample on Maturana and Varela's theory of autopoesis:

" of the most familiar images of the brain is that of an information processing system, importing information from the environment and initiating appropriate responses. The brain is viewed as making representations of the environment, recording these in memory, and modifying the information stored through experience and learning. In contrast Maturana and Varel argue that the brain is closed, autonomous, circular, and self-referential. They argue that the brain does not process information from an environment as an independent domain and does not represent the environment in memory. Rather it establishes and assigns patterns of variation and points of reference as expressions of its own mode of organization. The brain organizes its environment as an extension of itself.

If one thinks about it, the idea that the brain can make some representation of its environment presumes some external point of reference from which it is possible to judge the degree of correspondence between the representation and the reality. This implicitly presumes that the brain must have a capacity to see and understand its world from a point outside itself. Clearly, this cannot be so. Hence, the idea that the brain represents reality is open to serious question."
From there, Morgan moves into talking about business and competition:

"In the long run, survival can only be survival with, never survival against, the environment or context in which one is operating.

In seeing how our suppliers, market, labor force, local, national, and worldwide community, and even competition are really parts of the same system of organization, it becomes possible to move toward an appreciation of systemic interdependence. Many organizations have succeeded in making major breakthroughs by breaking and reshaping the boundaries traditionally drawn between themselves and their customers and competition, creating a new sense of identity for themselves and the system as a whole."
I'm starting to see how this all ties together with third party action research, sustainability principles, and the triple bottom line. But they are still weak links for me - I have to keep reaching out and digging in to make the connections.


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