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Ch4 - Organizations as Brains (learning & self-organization) by Mind Map: Ch4 - Organizations as Brains
(learning & self-organization)
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Ch4 - Organizations as Brains (learning & self-organization)

Organizations as holographic brains

The brain is both holographic and specialized

Increasing uncertainty results in desire to control outputs as opposed to behavior

negative feedback loops

Single & double loop learning (challenging operating norms)

First loop is needed, but don't want to get stuck in it

What type of environment is needed to allow the challenging of operating norms?

Culture of openness; people feel safe to dialogue

Top-down approach typically doesn't work for this outcome

Listening - if upper management listens, they will hear both problems and solutions -- access the knowledge that's already there

Teach people how to listen, e.g. Ed's safety culture

Building holographic qualities in organizations

Build the whole into the parts

Incorporate values, build corporate DNA

Importance of redundancy

In information processing/flow

In skills and design of work

Requisite variety

Internal complexity must match that of environment

Minimum specs

Define no more than absolutely necessary

Learn to learn

Scan & anticipate environmental change

Emergent design

Leadership & Teams

Patterns emerge rather than being imposed

Requisite variety - put variety into the system where it's needed

Leaders need to move toward facilitation and boundary management

Leadership doesn't have to be institutionalized / pre-defined

Keep loose boundaries within functional areas

Grow large while staying small (holographic structures)

Holistic teams have diversified roles

Self-managing workgroups

Teams absorb functions

Remove bureaucratic structures


There is no coherent image of the brain shared by all, so we use sub-metaphors like holograms

Blind spots

Conflicts between learning and self-organization

Dynamics of power and control react against self-organization

Continuous learning must be accompanied by appropriate societal purpose or it may be in service to negative outcomes


Identifies the requirements of learning organizations

Powerful way of thinking about info tech and how it can be used to support learning orgs

Self-organizing networks shaped and driven by collective intelligence

Invites rethinking industrial management principles

Leadership should be diffused, not centralized

Goals/objectives/targets should avoid pathologies of single loop learning

Hierarchy, design & strategic development should be understood as self-organizing, emergent phenomena