Friday, July 13, 2012


Hanna Thoren
I was reminded recently, dipping into some LinkedIn forums, how the machine metaphor is endemic in organisational thinking. I guess this is a legacy from the 20th century, during which machines dominated our development across the board.

But I've seen this metaphor in action and I've seen the damage it does....................

If you want your organisation to run like a well-oiled machine, then its elements should behave predictably - but its elements are people and people have a chaotic, emotional, unpredictable aspect to them, which is the antithesis of machine behaviour. So trying to build a deterministic organisation out of unpredictable pieces is not going to have a happy outcome.

And then there is the environment in which the machine operates, comprising social, political and economic elements, all of which are intrinsically chaotic.

So, just at a theoretical level, trying to create a machine-like organisation out of unpredictable bits in a unpredictable world really won't cut the mustard.

And, surprise, surprise - it doesn't work in practice either!

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