Presentation on theme: "Organizations as Organisms"— Presentation transcript:
1 Organizations as Organisms From “Images of Organization” by G. Morgan
2 Systems Theory“The essential nature of matter lies not in objects, but in interconnections”
3 Assumptions from Systems Theory A system is a set of units that connect to form a whole.The whole system functions because of interdependence of its parts.Systems have input, output, control, and feedback processes.Living systems are more complex than mechanical systems.
4 Living SystemsLife: a property of improbably complexity possessed by an entity that works to keep itself out of equilibrium with its environment.R. Dawkins (1986)
5 8 Characteristics of Living Things: (Biology 101) are organizedwork together to form increasingly higher levels of complexity.metabolizemaintain internal environment.growrespondreproduceevolve
6 Characteristics of Living Systems Living systems learn constantly (are adaptive).Living systems are self-organizing.Life is systems-thinking.Living systems are webbed with feedback (reciprocal modification)Living systems are interconnected.Living systems are self-referentialLiving systems are autopoetic.
7 Mechanistic, Holistic, Ecological Approaches Mechanical: The part extrapolates to the whole
8 Holistic ApproachThe whole is the sum of its parts.
9 Deep Ecological Approach The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
11 Attributes of Living Systems Form (pattern)StructureProcess
12 Organisms vs. Machines Open versus closed Dynamic versus static Fluid versus boundedAdaptive versus rigidComplex versus simpleQuantum versus NewtonianNon-linear versus linearOrganic versus mechanisticInterrelationships versus objectsChaotic pendulum versus clock
13 Laws of Thermodynamics First Law: Total energy in the universe is constant. (Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.)Second Law: Total entropy (randomness) in the universe is increasing.You can’t win: You can only break even.You can’t even break even.
14 System: Open versus Closed Open system: exchanges energy and mass with its environmentClosed system: exchanges energy, but not mass with its environment.Isolated system: doesn’t exchange either mass or energy
15 Self-regulationDesired states emerge from within system, not directed by external agents.Purposeful behaviorFeedback loopsEssential variablesLiving systems can anticipate disturbances that enhance ability to respond.
16 Self-referenceEvolve and change in ways that are consistent with self and with environment.Innate characteristicsContinual embodiment of system’s pattern of organization"the law of the situation” (Follett)
17 Autopoiesisnetwork of production processes in which the function of each component is to participate in transformation of other components in the network
18 Autocatalysis Feedback loops Reciprocal modification (Follett) Small change can have large effectAmplification and damping
19 Self-organization Self-renewing Reconfiguration in face of disturbance Resiliency rather than stabilityInterdependence, interconnected with environmentCollaborationSelf-organizing systems change their environment
20 Self-organization Domains of independence and interdependence processes that support change and stabilitycontinuity and newnessautonomy and control“A self-organizing system has the freedom to grow and evolve, guided by only one rule: It must remain consistent with itself and its past”
21 Question:How can you hold a hundred tons of water in the air with no visible means of support?
23 EquilibriumA condition in which all acting forces are canceled by others resulting in a stable, balanced, or unchanging system.(Physics) The condition of a system in which the resultant of all acting forces is zero.Thermodynamic: DG = 0
24 EquilibriumEnd state in evolution of isolated systems, point at which the system has exhausted all of its capacity for change, done its work, and dissipated its productive capacity into useless entropy. At equilibrium, nothing left for the system to do….it can produce nothing. (Wheatley, p. 76.)Spontaneity/capacity for change (demo)
25 Entropy: The arrow of time In a closed system, entropy can never decreaseMeasure of disorderMeasure of capacity to change“Mixedupness” (W. Gibbs)Complex to simpleOrder to disorder
26 Models of Change and Adaptivity Evolution (Darwin):change is continuous and intrinsicnatural selectionselective reproductiongenetic driftgenetic variationrandom mutation“survival of the fittest” (NOT!)
27 Punctuated Equilibrium (Gould) Change and AdaptivityPunctuated Equilibrium (Gould)equilibrium punctured by short periods of intense change and reconfigurationstable structures at equilibriumchange is disruptive, rare eventchaos theoryoccurs in small, isolated populations
28 Evolution vs. Innovation Evolution: OrganismImprove reproductive success through gene pool.Impossible in large populationNon-purposeful (species doesn’t choose to evolve.)Need variation within species.Innovation (Organization)Paradigms (formal knowledge & collective perceptions)Impossible if organization resists it.If chose to punctuate equilibrium.Need continual cross-fertilization between learning units.
29 Evolution vs. Innovation Evolution: Organismoccurs only in small isolated populationsmutationsno interbreeding between speciescannot pass on acquired characteristicscompetition for survivalInnovation (Organization)occurs only in small isolated populationsentreprenurialshipmerge and blend at will (but NIH)changes passed on through cultural and educational programs.Competition and cooperation
30 Complex Adaptive Theory Dynamic systemsNon-linearNetwork dynamicsMultiple levels of organization and structureBounded instability:stable equilibrium or explosive instabilityGenerative complexity in boundary between rigidity and randomness
31 Dissipative Structures (Prigogine) Systems that maintain themselves in a stable state but are far from equilibriumUse disequilibrium to avoid deteriorationContinual influx of energy flow, but overall structure is maintained.Continuously import energy and discard entropySelf-organizing systemsDissipate energy in order to recreate new forms of organization
32 Dissipative Structures (Prigogine) Self-amplifying feedback loops push system farther from equilibrium until reaches threshold of stabilityChange agent has huge effectBifurcation points: crossroads between death and transformationpath not predictable, but self-referentialIncreasing complexity
33 Dissipative Structures Structure and fluidityNon-linear/Chaos TheoryVortex: continuous flow but constant structuredraining waterstorms
38 Organizations as Self-Organizing Systems Adaptive Systems: adapt form to fit task (adhocracies) - to “fit the moment”Capacity for spontaneously emerging structures that best fit present needFlexible response to changeStrong relationship to environment - as matures, more efficient, more adaptive
39 Organizations as Self-Organizing Systems Co-evolution with environment: establishes basic structure facilitates insulation that protects system from constant, reactive changesChaos forces organization to seek new points of viewOrganizations and their environments are evolving simultaneously toward better fitness for each other.
40 Organizations as Self-Organizing Systems Portfolio of skills--not portfolio of business unitsMany levels of autonomyNeed strong competency, identity, and visionStrong frame of reference (Self-referent)
41 Organizations as Dissipative Systems Hypercyclesmultiple feedback loopscatalytic cyclesself-replication
42 Organizational Change When system is far from equilibrium, creative individual can have a huge impactamplification of feedback looppresence of lone fluctuation gets amplifiedautocatalysisBifurcation points
43 Learning Organizations and Punctuated Equilibrium Respond to environmental changesTolerate stressCompete effectivelyExploit new nichesTake risksDevelop symbiotic relationshipsEvolve or perish?
44 Characteristics of Successful Organizations Self-organizing or self-renewingAdaptiveFlexible to internal and external changeFeedback loopsreflection, self-awareness, informationGlobally stable with local fluctuationsOpen systemSelf-referential
45 Living Systems Theory and Transformational Leadership Organizational beliefs (genetic code)Feedback loop: reciprocal modificationGuiding principles, shared visionStraddle both continuity and discontinuityAdaptableAware of environmentReflective and synnoeticSelf-transcendentAdhocracy
46 Transformational Leadership EntreprenurialVisionaryBuild sustainable niche in emergent economic systemsLeader’s task is to communicate shared values and guiding principles, keep them in the forefront, and allow individuals in the system random, chaotic-looking meanderings. (Wheatley, p. 133)
47 Strengths of the Metaphor Focus on relationships and connectednesswithin organizationbetween organizationswith environmentChange and diffusion theoryprovides model for innovation
48 Weaknesses of the Metaphor Emphasis on cooperation rather than competitionNeed additional theories to use metaphor effectivelyLiving Systems TheoryComplex Adaptivity TheoryPunctuated EquilibriumNon-linear Math and Chaos Theory
49 The Web of Interconnectedness “...Whatever befalls the earth,befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.Man did not weave the web of life;he is merely a strand in it.Whatever he does to the web,he does to himself”in F. Capra, “The Web of Life”, 1996.