Mechanism or organism?
Number 2 of 4.
Writing in Resurgence magazine, Herbert Gerardet, co-founder of the World Future Council, points out that mechanical systems tend to be linear whereas natural systems are cyclic. Transfer this principle to organisations and we can see that the control and command structures of which we are so fond, are themselves mechanical and therefore linear. This matters a great deal because linear systems inevitably consume resources and produce waste – they are entropic. Natural systems, in contrast, are complex, interactive and regenerative. This suggests that we would do well to change the way we organise.
We might suppose that if we can organise like natural interactive systems then we would cope more readily with complexity. Instead of entropy the way we organise would become regenerative – with less waste and better use of resources.
We are so used to the standard organisational structure that it is hard to conceive of any other way of organising. Think of the typical organogram which has branches like a tree, wherein power resides with one person, usually a man, and cascades down levels of hierarchy until it impinges upon the many minions. Once such a structure is established it is almost impossible to change it to a more organic pattern of relationships. We need to make a fresh start and engage everyone in re-conceiving the way we work.