Schlagwort-Archive: Leadership

The organism – the ideal metaphor for natural order

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.

  • Structure
    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.
  • Format
    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.
  • Leadership
    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.
  • Cooperation
    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.
  • Knowledge
    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.

The clockwork – the ideal metaphor for technical order

Descartes and the enlightment divided the world into parts as small as possible, in order to examine and understand exactly, how it ticks. This world view is still valid. And until today many people only trust on what they can repeatedly prove. Accordingly enterprises divide work into controllable units. These areas, teams and positions get the tasks, authority and responsibility assigned for a small part of the value chain. Together, all parts represent the whole enterprise – for some people like clockworks. If the smallest part is missing, the clock does not tick any longer. That makes the clockwork an ideal metaphor for technical order.


Human-made structure is based on rules, logic and calculations. The following points clarify this thinking.

  • Structure
    The architecture of a clock is determined by the watchmaker. On various layers the different displays of time, like the respective hours, minutes, seconds, dates or moon phases are implemented through cog wheels of different sizes. The watchmaker recognizes, how it works and in which sequence it can be put apart and be rebuilt by looking at the clockwork.
    In the same way the company consists of different areas. The larger the number of areas, the more layers, groupings and fields exist. Due to the limited number of parts, the most difficult clockwork is easier to get going than an enterprise.
  • Format
    The condition of the cog wheels, the screws and the material determine the quality of the clock. Each part has a purpose. In a company, there are likewise tangible components – e.g. the buildings, the pipes and the machines. Some people even consider the employees as tangible resources. For better grasping the soft aspects of people, they are described with forms that regulate the exchange of information and define a common language. Over time these guidelines shape up to the dense jungle of bureaucracy. The regulations are created, described, published and the application ensured without interruption. The clockwork does not have these soft factors. This makes the clockwork to the ideal description for a flawless enterprise driven by leadership.
  • Leadership
    The small flywheel, the balance wheel, is crucial for the even operation of a clock. Accordingly, it takes people in the enterprise, who take over this role. In a technical order the directions run clearly from top to bottom, from outside to inside. Nothing happens, without the superordinate, super-superordinate approval of the superiors. This creates reliable and smooth operational sequences, but it slows down the flexibility of the employees. They always have to obtain permission initially. As the balance wheel ensures the even running of the clock, the leadership takes care that even with time pressure the corporate procedures run reliably.
  • Key figures
    Well adjusted clocks provide the exact time accurately. Further key figures are the caliber, the energy source or the number of beats per second. Also the technical order uses measurable key figures. The activities have clear measuring points, as long as they are tangible. Thus the decisions can be justified, the employee performance evaluated and different scenarios simulated. With growing digitization also the number of measuring points increases. The new abilities of Big DATA are still able to recognize patterns in the flood of information. Eventually not the quantity is crucial, but the reliability.
  • Collaboration
    The clockwork lives of the immaculate interaction of its parts. As soon as sand slips into the clockwork, it stops. The business cooperation in the technical order is regulated. The farther they are from each other, the rarer are direct contacts. Contrary to the clock, where the cooperation takes place inside, the business depends on informal relations of the employees, who unfold rather outside, in the private environment. Cooperation is made more difficult due to the existence of an area specific, separatist secret language that can hardly or not at all be understood by others. For fans of the technical order the clock represents the ideal state of cooperation.
  • Knowledge
    The wisdom of clockwork consists of its design, the mechanical finesse of its parts as well as, of course, and the time. In the enterprise the knowledge is distributed across all levels and ranges. The superordinate levels have thereby a limited view, while the subordinated levels have a limited operational know-how. The rigid structure limits the available knowledge to what was originally inserted into the organization – learning is for this thinking a wrench in the works.

Bottom line: The clockwork is the ideal metaphor for a technical order, as it coins the economy for centuries. The price for this tangible corporate structure is a large number of layers, an overwhelming bureaucratization, a strictly hierarchical chain of command, easily attainable measuring points, a firmly given cooperation and the insufficient use of knowledge and learning.