l. [Def: A "stable state" refers to the condition of a society in which major cultural change takes longer than the lifetime of one individual.] The loss of the stable state means that our society and all of its institutions are in continuing process of transformation. We cannot expect new stable states that will endure even for our lifetimes.
2. We must learn to understand, guide, influence, and manage these transformations. We must make the capacity for understanding them integral to ourselves and our institutions.
3. We must, in other words, become adept at learning. We must become able not only to transform our institutions, in response to changing situations and requirements; we must invent and develop institutions that are "learning systems," that is to say, systems capable of bringing about their own continuing transformation.
4. The task which the loss of the stable state makes imperative, for the person, for our institutions, for our society as a whole, is to learn about learning. What is the nature of the process by which organizations, institutions, and societies transform themselves? What are the characteristics of effective learning systems? What are the forms and limits of knowledge that can operate within processes of social learning? What demands are made upon a person who engages in this kind of learning?
- Donald A. Schon, Beyond the Stable State (1971)