In CSHL itself we began to find that our students and our research assistants began to meet and co-operate in different groups depending on the variety of task activities that were going on and also the aspects of S-O-L in which they were currently most involved. As a group we gradually began to use the term; the S-O-L Society for the effective ways in which we co-operated together. To Sheila and Laurie, it had become clear that society as a whole could eventually find this a more democratic and effective way of conducting its Living, Working and Leisure activities.

The diagram on Page 6 suggests that the conversational society will be made up of
Self-Organised Learners who in different parts of their lives work in pairs or small groups and in organisations that have accepted S-O-L in many of its various forms.

S-O-L Coaches

So through the whole of our time at Brunel and beyond, we have been exploring and developing the ideas that we had when we first took a full wall-poster of the above diagram to Hong-Kong; which was then still a British Colony. We had been invited to a convention on the nature of British Management Training. Unfortunately this was not the best of experiences for us. After having Laurie’s half-hour presentation the visitors from China were very interested indeed, enough for our later books to be published in Chinese. But in the week that we were there, occasionally one of them warned us that our ideas didn’t seem to be too compatible with what was then happening in the people’s republic of China.

When we also experienced the reactions of the other British presenters of British Management Training we also had a few surprises. Two or three of them went out of their way to explain that management was quite different from what we were doing but one other girl came in enthusiastically to our stall but unfortunately she was quickly drawn away again as her colleagues did not want us to know they were using some of our techniques into their own management teaching. The idea that British Management might learn something from Zen and Yoga did not help us with the group of other presenters.

The Learning Conversation:  Individuals, Groups and Organisations

So the full impact of Self-Organised Learning gradually develops from individuals to groups and eventually to the ways in which organisations improve their effectiveness. Each S-O-Ler gradually discovers that their PLC enables them to gain more and more control over how and what they learn. In almost all our projects the participants have moved from expecting us to ‘teach’ them to gradually become colleagues with us in the whole enterprise, whatever it is. Where the emphasis has been on individual learning, the groups of learners have gradually come to trust their ability to develop and increase their competence and also through the Life Conversation to take greater control of both the Quality and Direction of how they live.

As S-O-Lers begin to work in pairs and groups they rapidly come to recognise both their own versatility and the increasing awareness among the group of how they best collaborate together. For us this has varied from Art students to an Olympic rowing team and from Naval Officers to members of the Metropolitan Police Force, among a much wider variety of professions.

Eventually as S-O-Ling begins to be taken up and has become effective within an increasing number of organisations; those of them in which a large majority of their members have become full S-O-Lers began to question how decision making and the way in which they work together can be re-distributed and shared between individuals, groups and departments so that there is an increasingly widespread improvement in the way in which the organisation works. Finally we have noticed that those organisations in which the members feel they have a significant stake in the whole system, not only become more effective, but are also those that are able to respond more effectively to any and every on-going need for change.

The Self-Organised Learner

This is used to indicate a fully fledged
Self-Organised Learner.

This is intended to represent a pair of
Self-Organised Learners working with and supporting each other.

This group suggests that Self-Organised Learners working together become powerful groups or teams able to cope and develop in the many different activities of the Learning Society.

This diagram of Systems-7 is meant to represent any and all the organisations that are building S-O-L into their day-to-day routine activities.

The S-O-Ler/S-O-L Society

The members of the S-O-L Society are all potential S-O-Lers. Some of them are still having Level 1 conversations. As they become more proficient they move to Level 2, and start their Learning-to-Learn conversations. After this they learn to do carry out Life and Relevance conversations with themselves. As S-O-Ling becomes accepted within an increasing number of organisations, people will begin to recognise the increasing effectiveness of organisations that have used and accepted Systems-7 as an integral part of their structure.

As the members of the S-O-L society begin to recognise its effectiveness for individuals, groups and organisations, they will begin to question how S-O-L might change the nature of society. Probably the first applications will emerge in the changes to education, both in schools, colleges and universities. Once this has begun to operative effectively society will find that the educational institutions are not only developing young S-O-Lers but are also contributing ideas and methods back into society. Schools will offer a service to their local councils and universities will also offer ideas and methods to local industry, shops and businesses of various types, perhaps even including banks.

At this point the population may begin to recognise that their local and regional councils together with their county and national government may be usefully reorganised on the basis of Learning Conversations. Eventually the members of the S-O-L society may decide that they need different organisational groupings in order to make the most effective use of their members.

Level 7: Towards the Self-Organised Learning (S-O-L) Society

Levels 1 to 6 have developed the idea that an individual can become a Self-Organised Learner, and that S-O-Lers can work together in pairs, groups, teams; and even larger scaled groups based on the use of Systems-7. In our experiences based on quite a large and various range of projects (see the Positive Results section); the introduction of Self-Organised Learning into any type of serious group activity seems to lead to greater personal satisfaction for the people involved. It also leads to increased effectiveness of the pair, group, team or organisation as a whole.

This only becomes completely true when it is fully accepted and incorporated into the enterprise. The difficult stages in the process of introducing S-O-L is when part or parts of the whole have accepted and then welcomed it, but where certain key people or groups have not been properly introduced into the fully functioning S-O-L enterprise. If certain key people or groups continue to see it as just another type of training, rather than a complete review of what working together and for each other means; then there may eventually be difficulties for the whole. However once it has been fully accepted that responsibility is a two-way process, it all goes well.

So perhaps the cumulative lesson of all our work is that local, regional and national government could function better and in the interest of everybody involved. At each stage beginning with family, through to education and then onto work people could both generally be both happier and more competent. With regards to local, regional and national government, the idea of Self Organisation could mean that each of us becomes happier with our own more complete development and in ways in which we can co-operate in pairs, groups and within organisations. As we learn from this experience we might begin to apply it to the structure of society.

In our experience based on quite a large and various ranges of projects; the introduction of Self-Organised Learning into any type of serious group activity seems to lead to greater personal satisfaction for the people involved. It also leads to increased effectiveness of the pair, group, team or organisation as a whole. This is only true when it is fully accepted and incorporated into the enterprise.