The original world knowledge was determined by the experiences that humans witnessed in their immediate environment. They were holistic experiences that were not distorted by mental simplifications. Over centuries this perspective was pushed into the background. With the newest insights it appeared that the world is not a machine, a clockwork, but a naturally grown entity that lives by its own, so far hidden rules. Also the economy slowly starts to understand that new approaches are needed. The organism is the ideal metaphor for such a natural order.
The natural order can not be developed, but grows by its own. You can only try to create fertile basic conditions, so that it develops as desired. The following aspects are concerned.
The organism consists of many, indistinct and strongly exchanging components. This can be cells, organs or other parts of a body. Even if they differ in size, they are on the same level. Biologists or physicians recognize interaction and find starting points to influence. In business similar approaches develop under the heading of Agile organization, Lean management, and subsidiarity. The departure from the actual Taylorism and its breaking down of tasks, authority and responsibility is common to all. Small mobile units, which have full control, are to adapt flexibly to the market requirements. Eventually they adapt like organisms adapt to changing context condition.
An organism grows up and develops over generations special abilities that enable to survive. It uses for this purpose no artificial structures, but interacts spontaneously with its environment. That way also the business areas have to act now. The emphasis goes away from schematic operational sequence, to open, adaptable procedures. Each unit can find and implement its own approach. The cooperation of the enterprise is marked by the fact that all units yearn for a common conception of the future. The exchange of information will create understanding and comprehensibility with the effort of all units that result from the honest needs to communicate and to show interest. Enterprises use words and numbers as information. Organisms use their biochemical messengers.
In a flock of birds it is not possible to identify, where the change of direction starts or who it triggers. There seem to be simple, context related rules. In retrospect you can suspect at best, what the triggers might have been. Enterprises, which get involved in such approaches, have difficulties, because they cannot assign the responsibility for the changes. In this context not one, but all provide the triggers and define together the target. Many efforts seem to fall senselessly flat thereby. For today’s bosses this appears like waste. They forget thereby that all involved people learn and cooperate more effectively in the future. A direct steering harms the nature more, than it is useful. In business it sometimes goes against individual interests.
- Key figures
The organism shows only few objectively attainable key figures – fever, increased pulse, rapid breathing, and changed metabolism. The remaining indicators are qualitatively – fitness, adaptability, agility, and flexibility. In business are rather less measurable key figures – fluctuation, employee burn-outs, bustle, and degree of workload. Success becomes here visible with the monetary results, after everything is over. Readjusting afterwards is difficult. The early gut feeling is the only thing that you have beforehand. The new economic key figures become more and more similar to those of the organism.
The interaction of an organism can only be shown to a certain extent, since the best description can illustrate only part of the reality. The substantial part remains concealed. And it is clear to everyone that a healthy cooperation makes a body viable. Enterprises that live a really open work culture, receive results in unexpected places. The intrinsic motivation of each participant dynamises meetings. Short work rounds produce increasing value by not wasting the time of others because people are only present for the sake of being part of the meeting. The involved people decide only to join a meeting, if it provides a benefit to them and produces thereby an enormous momentum for all. Exactly, as the organism knows ho to pace its forces, the natural order is following the same principles.
Does the bee swarm know that it is an organism out of many individuals? The bees found their way to share their knowledge. The swarm knows quickly, where the best flowers are to be found. The knowledge exchange takes place quasi automatically. Enterprises with natural order have informal channels that bring quickly the knowledge to the places, where needed. The substantial consequences are that not all know everything and only the really needed information is available. Actually it is perfect to dam the flood of information. The dynamic structure of the organism processes the stimuli even in such a way that over time its structure adapts to the new conditions.
Bottom line: The organism is the ideal metaphor for the natural order, as it is recently introduced in business. The pre-requisites for this open form are the adaptability of growing units, the tolerance for different solutions, the let loose of direct influence by the executives, soft key figures, the ability to co-operate spontaneously and the sharing of the common knowledge without hidden agenda.