brainbanner.jpg

Topic Overview

Key Terminology

Term
Explanation
Reference
MORGAN


Holographic System/Design
Principle of organizational design based on the concept of holographs, wherein information is stored in such a way that the whole is contained in each individual part. Allows for double-loop learning, resilience and adaptability similar to that shown by brains.
Page 73,
Page 99,
Page 101
Decision-Making Approach
Ideological ancestor of "organizations as brains." Approach to understanding organizations pioneered by Herbert Simon, James March, and others, compares human decision making to organizational decision making, ultimately concluding that organizations settle for "bounded rationality" of "good enough" decisions, or "satisficing."
Page 76
Left/Right Brain Biases
Used as part of the "organizations as brains" metaphor to describe trends in organizational information processing and decision making: Left brain bias towards an overcentralized views of organizations relying heavily on logic and drawing conclusions from premises; Right brain bias towards more intuitive, nonlinear approaches.
Page 78
Networked Intelligence
Model of information storage and retrieval in which information is housed in a central location, retrievable by many individuals from many different locations; examples include the internet and company intranets.
Page 79,
Page 100
Just-in-Time (JIT) Systems
System wherein components of a product are delivered immediately before they are needed. Helps to break down boundaries and patterns of membership, allowing organizations to form more effective, streamlined, interconnected systems of organization.
Page 80
Cybernetics
Interdisciplinary science composed of the study of information, communication and control. Named for the Greek term "kubernetes" for "steersman" at MIT in the 1940s. Cybernetics provides a design model for organizations based on building learning practices and resiliency into an organization. Central to the Morgan chapter.
Page 81,
Page 92,
Page 95-7
Negative Feedback
First discovered with cybernetics. The process of error detection and correction, as in noticing that a boat is off course and shifting the rudder back in the opposite direction to get back on track. Regular and automatic negative feedback is crucial to double-loop learning and to self-designing organizations.
Page 82,
Reference Points
Within cybernetics, the visions, norms, values and limits that guide behavior. Also the standards that are evaluated in Step 2a of double-loop learning. (see below)
Page 92
Single Loop Learning
"Rests in an ability to detect and correct error in relation to a given set of operating norms." Step 1 = sensing environment, Step 2 = comparison of information to operating norms, Step 3 = initiating appropriate action. See diagram in Morgan outline below for visual representation.
Page 85
Double Loop Learning
"Depends on being able to take a double look" at the situation by questioning the relevance of operating norms" Same steps as above, but with addition of Step 2a, wherein it questions whether operating norms are appropriate and revises them if necessary. See diagram in Morgan outline below for visual representation.
Page 85-7,
Page 91
Quality Movement
Philosophy of promoting continuous improvement. Related to Total Quality Management (TQM) and the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Important for creation of double-loop learning systems within an organization.
Page 90
"Ringi"
Japanese "collective decision making process through which companies seek to test the robustness of policy iniatives and other developments." In ringi, a potential policy is circulated among a group, and any member may make changes, and resubmit the document for further circulation and revision. Allows for challenge and affirmation of reference points and "mobilizes disagreement to create consensus."
Page 94,
Page 96
"Avoidance of noxiants"
Principle of system evolution, and counterpart to "pursuit of desired ends." Important in cybernetics, and important in development of evolving, self-organizing organizations. By focusing on what not to do, allows for learning driven evolution within defined parameters.
Page 96
Corporate DNA
Idea of encoding key elements of an organization (visions, values, sense of purpose, etc.) into every unit of an organization, containing the "whole" within the "part"
Page 99
Redundancy of Parts/Functions
Redundancy "allows initiatives to be generated from many locations at once," (p. 107) and allows for self-organization. Redundancy of parts includes redundant parts being added to the system as back up in case others fail. Redundancy of functions entails extra functions being added to parts, so that each part can perform multiple functions. Should be governed by principle of "requisite variety." See below.
Page 107-8
Requisite Variety
Growing out of cybernetics, principle that suggests that internal diversity and complexity should match external complexity to successfully meet environmental challenges.
Page 108
Minimum Specs
"Minimum Critical Specifications." Concept that organizations need a degree of built in autonomy or freedom to evolve, and management should focus on only the most critical variables.
Page 110
SENGE


Adaptive Learning
Learning which if focused on coping with existing problems and challenges.
Page 288
Generative
Learning
Learning which is focused on creating. According to Senge, generative learning requires new ways of looking at the world.
Page 288
Learning Organization
An organization which focuses on adaptive and generative learning practices.
Page 288
TQM- total quality management
A movement started in Japan that focused on generative, rather than adaptive learning. Emphasis on experimentation and evaluation.
Page 288
Creative Tension
A key principle of learning organizations, involves focusing on the gap between "vision" (where the organization wants to be), and "current reality" (where the organization actually is).
Page 289-290
Systems Thinking
Focusing on trends and elements of change rather than daily events. Seeing the big picture.
Page 296
KEZAR


Learning Organizations
An idealized model (and a fad) popularized by Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline that is optimistic about the possibility of organizations to learn and of the efficacy of learning for organizational effectiveness.
Page 11
Organizational Learning
The study of whether, how, and under what conditions organizations can be said to learn - a systematic body of research which emerged in organizational psychology dealing with learning as a whole rather than just learning individually.
Page 10
KATZ & KAHN

Page 279
Negative Entropy
Importing more energy than you need.

Dynamic Homeostasis
The steady state is when the ratio of energy exchange and the relations between the parts stays the same.
Page 280
Equilfinality
A principle suggested by von Bertalanffy whereby a system can reach the same final form with differing initial conditions.
Page 283
Organization
An entity that has boundaries, behaviors (inside and outside) and key individuals and specific behaviors of these individuals.
Page 274
Through-Put
The transportation of energy.
Page 278
Output
The exportation of products into the environment.
Page 278
Open System
A system where energy continuously interacts with its environment and human energy is not constant, there does not need to be a single method for achieving an objective, and it needs to be understood by outside forces that impinge upon it.
Page 284
Negative Feedback
A corrective device to get a system back on course.
Page 280
Coding Process
A process that simplifies the feedback into a category.
Page 280

Summary of Readings

Morgan, Chapter 4 - Organizations as Brains

A large part of Morgan's "organizations as brains" simile stems from the concept of the brain as resilient and flexible. The opening passage of the chapter describes the ability to remove up to 90% of a brain and have it still retain functional (if slightly deteriorated) working capability, and speculates as to whether an organization could be as resilient. The rest of the chapter focuses on answering this question by looking first at the brain as a model and then exploring the ways in which organizations can perform similar functions, such as organizing information, learning and adapting. Notable XX include XX. For details, see the outline below.

Images of the Brain - page 72
Images of the brain have changed over time, often revolving around different technological metaphors, such as a TV system, a switchboard or memory bank, wherein information is stored, transmitted, interpreted and reconstructed. As technology continues to evolve, so have conceptions of the brain. One of the most recent deals with holographic systems which, like the human brain, are capable of losing large pieces of their data and remain functional by recreating the whole from any one of the pieces.
Organizations as Information Processing Brains
The concept of organizations as information processors has roots in the "decision-making approach" originated by Nobel prize winner Herbert Simon at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in the 1940s and 1950s. Simon argued that because people have to act on the basis of incomplete information, may only explore a limited number of alternatives, and are unable to attach accurate values to outcomes, people and organizations cannot operate entirely rationally and must settle for "bounded rationality," "good enough," or "satisficing." With all of this uncertainty, organizations often rely heavily on hierarchy, continuous feedback, and heavy centralization. However, this follows too much of a "left brain bias" and places too much emphasis on using single individuals to make decisions. With the recent rise in information technology and networked intelligence, however, the information processing view of the organization has been updating as well, so that the "organization in such circumstances increasingly rests in the information system." Morgan notes that "organizations are rapidly evolving into global information systems that are becoming more and more like electronic brains."
Creating Learning Organizations
--> Cybernetics, Learning, and Learning to Learn
Cybernetics emerged from the design challenge of trying to automate gunfire at moving targets during WWII. What made such automation possible was the concept of negative feedback, or the idea of systems which are able to detect errors and automatically engage in corrective behaviors, such as in a thermostat that achieves a desired temperature by adjusting higher or lower when the the temperature is incorrect. Negative feedback occurs not only in machines, but in human brains, as evidenced by the diagram below of a hand reaching for an object. All of this lead to a theory of communication and learning that creates a continuous process of information exchange between the system and its environments, with four key principles:
  • "Systems must have the capacity to sense, monitor, and scan significant aspects of their environment.
  • They must be able to relate this information to the operating norms that guide system behavior.
  • They must be able to detect significant deviations from these norms
  • They must be able to initiate corrective action when discrepancies are detected"
negativefeedback.jpg
--> Can Organizations Learn to Learn?
This ability to question and evaluate the environment is critical for creating organizations with the capacity to learn. While learning can happen in "single-loop learning" as in the figure below, top, learning is more effective when done through "double-loop learning," as below, bottom. Double-loop learning can be impeded by bureaucratic divisions, and even accountability and reward systems as employees engage in "defensive routines" to cover themselves and ultimately cause organizational outcomes to fail, such as in the case of the Challenger, where "desire to launch on time overrode knowledge of serious problems."
learningloops.jpg
--> Guidelines for "Learning Organizations"
A learning organization should be able to:
  • "Scan and anticipate change in the wider environment to detect significant variations
  • Develop an ability to question, challenge, and change operating norms and assumptions
  • Allow an appropriate strategic direction and pattern of organization to emerge
  • Evolve designs that allow them to become skilled in the art of double-loop learning"
A focus on continually scanning, and redirecting as appropriate builds on the quality movement of management lead by Deming, Juran, and others, as well as the Japanese concept of Kaizen, or continuous improvement. For an organization to be successful with this type of learning, it must be willing to take risks and support change, while always referring back to guiding visions, norms, values and limits, or "reference points." One example of this kind of organizational learning and self-organization in process is the Japanese idea of ringi, in which proposed policies, documents, etc., are circulated for approval and edits, and continually circulated after each change until agreement is reached. Though time-consuming, this process helps to ensure that problems have been detected and resolved. It is important to remember in these kinds of decisions that progress can be reached as easily by avoiding obstacles as by aiming for targeted outcomes, a strategy known as "avoidance of noxiants." For example, people learning to use the internet may be told things such as " Don't offend other users" or "Don't send junk mail," but what they are allowed to do is left open, and thus the internet evolves organically as an organization/information system and continues to meet the needs of those using it.
Organizations as Holographic Brains
Returning to the concept of an organization as a self-organizing entity in which the whole is embedded in each of the parts, much like a holograph, Morgan sets out 5 Principles of Holographic Design:
1. Build the "Whole" Into All the "Parts"
  • "Corporate DNA" as a metaphor for building the key elements of the whole organization into all elements of the organization
  • "Networked Intelligence" comes into play as a way of enacting corporate DNA, allowing centralized information to be accessed from many different points
  • Holographic Structure is embodied in the example of Magna International, which mandates that each unit must remain small, so when they reach too large a size, spinoff units are created from the original
  • Holistic teams and diversified roles - each team ought to be able to perform a number of functions, so that an individual unit may complete all aspects of a given task, and within that team, each person may perform many roles
2. The Importance of "Redundancy"
  • "Redundancy allows initiatives to be generated from many locations at once, thus reducing dependence on the activities of any single location" (p.107)
  • Creates shared understanding
  • "Redundancy of parts" deals with having backup parts to replace broken ones, coming out of the mechanistic design principle, whereas "redundancy of function" builds extra functions into existing parts so that each part may perform more functions. It is redundancy of function that allows for self-organizing processes in organizations.
3. Requisite Variety
  • Requisite variety states that the "internal diversity of any self-regulating system must match the variety and complexity of its environment if it is to deal with the challenges posed by that environment"
  • Effectively shows an organization how much redundancy of function to build in
  • Rather than reducing variety in return for greater internal consensus, organizations should have sufficient complexity so that they can take on functions as necessary and survive changes in the environment
4. Minimum Specs
  • Given requisite variety and sufficient complexity, an organization still requires a degree of freedom in terms of rules, restrictions, and specifications, in which to adapt
  • Managers should focus on the most critical issues and leave other issues to adapt and evolve as necessary
5. Learning to Learn
  • Organizations must be capable of double-loop learning
holographicrepro.jpgholodifferentiated.jpg
Strengths and Limitations of the Brain Metaphor
Strengths:
  • Identifies requirements for building learning organizations
  • Offers a way to think about "the implications of new information technology and how it can be used to support the development of learning organizations."
  • Offers new ways of thinking of management principles
Weaknesses:
  • No one coherent image of the brain that everyone shares
  • Possible to overlook conflicts that exist between learning and self-organization, and "realities of power and control"
  • Ideas of change and learning generate resistance
  • Continuous organizational learning must be tempered by societal perspective

Senge - Building Learning Organizations

Senge (1990), “The Leader’s New Work: Building Learning Organizations”

Senge, an engineer by training, lecturer at MIT, and chairperson of the Society of Organizational Learning, believes that human beings are designed for learning and that this gets driven out of them in schools and organizations by the squashing of natural curiosity and exploration. He wrote The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization in 1990 which has now sold over 750,000 copies.

Learning Organizations

Learning organizations, according to Senge, are the only organizations that will flourish and survive, as they focus on adaptive (coping) and generative (creating) learning. Adaptation is necessary to cope with environmental change, but creativity is necessary to expand capability. Creative tension is the integrating principle that links current realities with visions of the ideal.

Creative Tension
creative_tension.png

New Roles for Leaders

Learning organizations require new models of leadership, with the top-down approach obsolete, the organization must harness “the collective genius of the people.” The leader should be a designer, deciding on the purpose, core values, and vision of the organization. The leader should also be a teacher, challenging existing mental models and restructuring views of reality. The leader should examine the system structure, patterns of behavior, and events. The leader should also be a steward, as discussed in Greenleaf’s (1977) Servant Leadership; a steward of the people they lead and a steward of the mission of the organization.

New Skills for Leaders

Learning organizations also require new skills: building a shared vision, encouraging personal vision, communicating and asking of organization members if the vision is worthy, adapting the organization vision as necessary, changing the vision to reflect extrinsic and intrinsic challenges, and focusing on a positive, generative vision rather than a reactionary, anti-something vision.
The leader must also challenge existing mental models, including recognizing organizational defensive positions and espoused rather than used theory. The leader will use what Senge calls systems thinking, looking at the big picture of interrelationships and processes.

New Tools for Leaders

Senge identifies tools that leaders of learning organizations will need. These include identifying system archetypes that occur repeatedly in organizations. These include: balancing process with delay, or noting how long it will take to complete a project and if it will still be relevant when completed; noting limits to organizational growth; shifting the burden, or focusing on a short-term solution without considering the long-term negative impacts; eroding goals; escalation; overusing a common resource; and underinvesting.

shifting_the_burden.png




Peter Senge: 2010 Systems Thinking in Action Conference Preview


Kezar - Organizational Learning

In the Fall of 2005, the 131st issue of the Jossey-Bass quarterly report series "New Directions for Higher Education" was published. The issue, titled “Organizational Learning in Higher Education” was edited by Adrianna Kezar who also wrote Chapter 1 which is summarized below.

What Campuses Need to Know About Organizational Learning and the Learning Organization.

Kezar noted that college administrators and faculty were involved in discussions about becoming learning organizations and the importance of organizational learning. Many on campus were concerned that the “learning organization” was just a management fad, similar to others that had come and gone. Kezar uses the chapter to discuss organizational learning and the learning organization as possible fads, but also explorers ways that these approaches can be successfully engaged.

Is it just another fad?
The author referenced work done by Robert Birnbaum that outlined other management fads such as strategic planning, benchmarking, Total Quality Management (TQM), and business process reengineering.

Fads do provide some benefit (as Birnbaum argues) in that they leave both positive and negative residuals. Examples of these residuals that resulted from previous fads were provided. Further discussion outlined methods which could be used by management to gleam potential benefits from fads without assuming the risks and costs associated with wholesale implementation.

Based largely on the considerable work done by Birnbaum, the author suggests “that the learning organization is a management fad and should be engaged with skeptical interest”.

Organizational Learning vs. Learning Organization – Are they the same?
The short answer is "no", though many consider them the same.

Organizational learning is the study of whether, how, and under what conditions organizations can learn. Dating back to the 1950s, organizational learning is considered a systematic body of research and not a fad as it emerged from organizational psychology and deals with the concept of learning as a whole rather than just learning individually.

In contrast, many consider that the learning organization is an idealized model and therefore a fad. It was popularized by Peter Senge in his 1190 book, “The Fifth Discipline” and it experienced a resurgence in 2003 with his re-edited release. In general, Senge is very optimistic regarding the ability of organization to learn and provides a model using five disciplines to create learning: systems thinking, mental models, personal mastery, shared vision, and team learning/dialogue.

If you are not familiar with Senge’s book, it may be helpful to click on the book’s image shown below to gain access to a brief but useful book review.

Five_Disciplines.jpg


fifth.gif
Click on Image for Book Review


Another scholar who has done much work in the area of organizational learning is David A. Garvin, a professor at the Harvard Business School since 1979. A synopsis of "The Importance of Learning in Organizations" is highlighted in a 10-minute interview with Garvin and fellow Harvard Business School professor, Amy Edmondson. To view, click on the link provided in the Outside The Classroom section of this page.

In summary, the primary difference between organizational learning and learning organizations is the degree to which learning by an organization is deemed possible, effective, and desirable.

Evolution of Both Concepts in Higher Ed
Kezar found it difficult, if not impossible, to examine ways that organizational learning and the learning organization have been applied to higher education. In 2005, direct and clear reference to both concepts within higher education literature was infrequent.

Searches revealed mostly writing about the fad rather than the research-based concept of organizational learning. Many authors used the terms interchangeably and they were not examined independently. Only a few authors had attempted to apply organizational learning concepts within higher education settings.

Additionally, little empirical data existed in the writings and they were therefore not useful in helping leaders make judgments about whether to engage in the concepts.

Coupled with Management Fads
Most early references to learning organizations and importance of learning in the 1980s and early 1990s were related to discussions of TQM and Continuous Quality Improvement. These concepts were eventually viewed as fads mainly because of their commonsensical nature in regard to higher education. The concept that higher education would be unable to improve performance if it was not aware of how it was performing on measures, such as student learning, certainly seemed elementary.

While some benefit (the positive residuals discussed by Birnbaum) were recognized, the coupling or association of organizational learning with previous management fads has resulted in cynicism within higher education.

Breaking free of Fads
Some progress has been made. Knowledge management is being applied within higher education settings such as institutional research offices, planning offices and libraries. Institutions are doing a better job of developing data and translating that data into formats usable by campus stakeholders for decision making. Additionally, lifelong learning and human resource management initiatives are being incorporated within faculty as well as administrative settings and the hierarchical relationships between learners and teachers are being reexamined.

Katz & Kahn - Organizations and the System Concept

How do we identify an organization and its purpose? We know when we are dealing with an organization if it has boundaries, behaviors (inside and outside), and key individuals and specific behaviors of these individuals. In the past, organizations were viewed primarily from a common sense approach and it was said that, “an organization is a social device for efficiently accomplishing, through group means, some stated purpose". The two key characteristics of the common sense approach were the goals of the leader and the name of the organization. This approach had drawbacks. First, not everyone knew or agreed with the goals of the leader and others would take on their own individual departmental goals more relevant to their own department. Two, the goals of the leader were not well communicated. Katz and Kahn felt that it would be better if organizations began with the input, output, and functioning of the organization as a system instead of the goals of the leader. Organizations are social systems and all social systems consist of patterned activities by individuals. Because these activities occur over and over, we know we have an organization.

Before the advent of open-system thinking, social scientists tended to take one of two approaches in dealing with social structures; they tended to either (1) ignore the environmental forces affecting the organization or (2) fell back on some magical purpose to account for the functioning of the organization.
Because social organizations are open systems, they must consider the environment in which they exist. Katz and Kahn’s two basic criteria for identifying social systems are (1) tracing the pattern of energy exchange of people as it results to output and (2) determining how the output is translated into energy which reactivates the pattern. This model of an input-output system is taken from the open system theory as founded by Luwig von Bertalanffy.

Although open system organizations have special characteristics, they share some of the following properties with all open systems.
Characteristic
Definition
Example
Citation
1. Importation of Energy
Open systems import some form of energy from the external environment.
Case studies (external examples); no social structure; people within the organization can import energy in the form of new ideas and creativity; environmental stiulations needed for project participation; higher education is likely to be boring and ineffective without adequate level of energy; The tree needs light, soil, and water to be the best, most effective tree it can be.
Pg. 278 and
graffiti papers.
2. The Through-Put
The transformation of energy.
The body converts starch and sugar into heat and action.
Pg. 278
3. The Output
The exportation of products into the environment.
The invention of an inquiring mind or a bridge constructed by an engineering firm.
Pg. 278
4. Systems as Cycles of Events
A chain of events that includes closure and a return to the beginning of the cycle and the fact that the cycle will be repeated over and over.
Raw materials and labor turn out a product which is marketed and money from the sale of the product is used to obtain more raw materials.
Pg. 278-279
5. Negative Entropy
Importing more energy than you need.
The body stores fat.
Pg. 279
6. Information Input, Negative Feedback and the Coding Process
The simplest type of information found in all systems is negative feedback. Negative feedback is a corrective device to get a system back on course. The coding process simplifies the feedback into a category.
A thermostat which controls the temperature in a room.
Pg. 280
7. The Steady State and Dynamic Homeostasis
The steady state is when the ratio of energy exchange and the relations between parts stays the same.
The temperature in our bodies stays the same despite the factors occurring in the internal or external environment.
Pg. 280-281-282
8. Differentiation
The process of making something special.
In the US, there are more medical specialists than general practitioners today.
Pg. 282
9. Equifinality
A principle suggested by von Bertalanffy whereby a system can reach the same final form with differing initial conditions and a variety of paths.
In business, firms can establish similar competitive advantages based on substantially different competencies.
Pg. 283
Listed below are the consequences in theory and practice between closed and opens systems.
Open Systems
Closed Systems
Citation
1. The organization is dependent upon inputs from the environment and materials and human energy are not constant.
1. The organization is run with coordination and control as the ends in themselves versus the means to an end. These moves are made under the guise of stability when flexibility is needed. Organizations are independent and problems should be analyzed in reference to its internal structure and without reference to the environment.
Pg. 283
2. Equifinality exists in open systems. There does not have to be a single method for achieving an objective.
2. Failure to recognize that there is more than one way to get the job done. And, there are times when a standardized process is the best approach.
Pg. 283
3. Open systems maintain that influences are not the sources of error variances but are integrally related to the functioning of a social system. We can’t understand a system without a constant study of the forces that impinge upon it.
3. A close system ignores external factors as a reason for internal errors or setbacks. There is no feedback system considered to account for the changes in the environment.
Pg. 284
Traditional organizational theories have tended to view the human organizations as closed systems. This regard has lead to failure in organizations.

Outside the Classroom


Harvard Business School professors discuss the challenges and benefits of becoming a "learning organization".

Based on his "Hole in the Wall" learning experiments, Sugata Mitra makes a case for education as a self-organizing system. (Warning, video is 54 minutes long, and he does not begin speaking about self-organizing systems until approximately 39-40 minutes in, but the first part is an interesting study of self-teaching in children if you've got the time.)

Class Activities & Discussions

Katz & Kahn Graffiti

Graffit sheets of paper were taped to the walls in the hallway for each of the concepts outlined in Katz & Kahn and everyone went around to the different paper and wrote a question or skepticism that they had, or a simpler way of conceptualizing the idea. These ideas aare captured below.
Importation of Energy
· Case studies (external examples)
· No social structure is self-sufficient or self-contained
· People within the organization can import energy in the form of new ideas and creativity
· Environmental stimulation needed for project participation
· Higher education or education in general is likely to be boring & ineffective without adequate level of energy [mental disorganization]
· In universities, our needs to continually be drawing from what is happening on the outside and take what is useful.
· All departments in higher ed on campus are interdependent and it functions best when there is collaboration (sharing of energy)
· The tree needs light, soil, and water to be the best, most effective tree it can be.
· Questions:
  • What effect does the importation of energy have on the employees in a higher education setting? Is it well received?
  • What are the sources of energy in Education? [economic, political, & social concerns in modern society maybe?] [students from lower grade levels or HS students to colleges?]
  • Is there a difference in the type or quality of the energy injected by different people? And is that energy valued more/less/differently in different departments?

The Output
Objective, completion, competencies, gained, etc.

Can be intentional or or unintended (and if it is unintended it is usually rationalized{see Chen/Mach}
The output=graduate/graduation ratio
Law+MBA (Isn’t the role of higher ed supposed to be to prepare students for the job market?)=Jobs (what about higher ed?-big
The invention of an inquiring mind
Keep environment in mind and how you affect it.
The tangibles and intangibles from H.E.
Diagram of open systems
Question:
o There is always some output-but what is it in higher ed (the students, the institution, the degrees)?
The Through-Put
Work with resources given (new product {idea})
Gum metaphor-->chewing the gum process
Use your resources
Students
Convert experiences/knowledge to new learning (IEO model)
Questions:
o What function do teams play in the transformation of energy? --> or higher ed?
o Really getting something out of a course?
o Can higher ed really produce a “product?”
o Can learning be qualified?
o Process for the sake of process?

The Steady State and Dynamic Homeostasis
Trash in-trash out
The struggle to maintain a sense of order/normalcy... pushes org. to new levels
I read that Homeostasis is Greek for “the same stat”...I think...
Tradition
The more things change the more they stay the same.
The type of trees can change but is is still a forest. CJR (Like university administration).
The temperature in our bodies stays the same despite the factors occurring in the internal or external environment.
Continuation of excellence.
Balancing two sides of a scale.
Questions:
o Is the rate of graduates exported from institutions=to that of the resources (financial) being put in?
Info input, negative feedback, and the Coding Process
Thermostat
Assessment (evaluation)
Subjectivity
Knowledge-->criticism-->analyzing-->interpretation
Necessary for learning process at institutional level-->evaluation and accreditation as negative feedback
Organizations must always evaluate processes and identify areas for improvement (trees don’t have to do this)
Questions:
o When it comes to a result, what gives confidence of no third variable?
o How does this impact higher ed?
o Who decides what is negative?
o What elements/inputs do institutions of higher ed choose to receive and when do they ignore?
o How is negative feedback different from feedback (just plain-regular feedback)?

Equifinality
Take multiple paths to make the same result.
Reminds me of a philosophy class I had. Read something about “many paths to the same summit”.
More than one way to skin a cat.
Students all take different paths to graduation.
Some paths could seem more legitimate based on fewer relationships and which people can profit off of.
Had to look up in check the dictionary.
Within finances limited resources to reach excellence.
Two roads converged in a yellow wood.
Don’t become narrow minded when what you’ve always done doesn’t work because there are many paths.
Emphasizes the importance of organized learning (since people are from different places/paths.
Sometimes it is important to think about the “road not taken.”
Students experience different avenues to degree completion (part time, full time,evening, time off, etc.
Differing initial conditions diagram.
Question:
o Are results from different paths always equal?

Negative Entropy
Acquire energy reserve to get you through times of low energy (like bears stockpile for hibernation).
Stability
It’s natural for a system to lose elements in order to make greater gain.
Colleges that cannot adapt to new situations like recession-close-
Open systems can store energy because they import energy-more than it needs.
Universal law of nature diagram.
Transform!
The body stores fat (mine stores too much)
Nothing lasts forever.
Fat storage.
Ex. Development=Create an endowment (cash reserve) to help the institution through hard financial times.
Questions:
Is lower output ratio sustainable in a business market?
How is energy conserved in a higher ed.setting?
At what point of state funding levels will institutions of higher ed be forced into ‘extinction’?
Systems as Cycles of Events
Raw materials and labor turn out a product and money from the sale is used to obtain more raw materials.
Looking at the big picture, the forest not the trees.
Causal circles with an action impacting itself among others.
Happy Students<---->become happy alumni, who give $ to ensure new generation of happy students
Keep an eye on moving parts from beginning to end
Terms of university president--> different institutional cultures.
Major cultural shifts, not minute changes of little consequences.
Implementing new systems ie. assessment cultures and creating evaluational cycle for the system.
Questions:
o Energy is neither created nor destroyed-how we apply this re-use transformation of energy in higher ed?
o New inputs required for change in results?
Differentiation
More medical specialists than general practitioners today in the U.S.
Reminds me of differentiation and integration.
How others coming in and impact the environment, diffusion of ideas through experiences.
All organizations including HE benefit from diversity.
Necessary but can blind us from the coherence of an organization.
Diversity and departmentalize.
Projects are specialized according to experience or interests.
Division of labor.
Question:
When a position grows too large for one person, either create an assistant director or split them in two assistant director positions.

Vision Statement/Left-hand Exercise

Based on Senge's idea that unspoken "mental models" are driving organizational decision making and may run counter to what is actually being said. Senge suggests that one should write out what they are thinking but not saying, particularly during problematic exchanges. In our exercise, each group member wrote a vision statement, and the other group members wrote left-hand notes about the vision statement.

Organizational Learning/Learning Organization Comparison

This organization looked at the concepts of Learning Organizations and Organizational Learning as discussed in the readings, and outlined their similarities and differences. Some of the examples discussed in class are below:
Similarities
Differences
Both concerned with experimentation and innovation.
Organizational Learning (OL) focuses on obstacles, while a Learning Organization (LO) focuses on solutions.
Faculty may be skeptical of both.
LO does not have much of its own research, but grows out of research on OL.
Both concerned with progress and moving forward.
LO may be considered a fad.
Both interested in learning as a whole, not as individuals.
One is internal, one is external.
Both rely on interpretation of data.
One is optimistic that learning promotes organizational effectiveness, one is skeptical.
Both advocate questioning assumptions.


Case Study with Archetypes

-Note: This exercise was on the agenda but was bumped to the next class due to time concerns.