An organisation is a collection of people, processes and procedures to achieve a purpose. An organisation is a machine, a working system: it has a function.
The subject fascinated me when I did my research. It just seemed obvious to me that the design of the machine, the system, affected its output.
The people, processes and procedures of the system determine its transforming abilities. If you change the procedure, the people behave differently producing different outcomes.
All systems need to react to the demands of the environment: to be a system that evolves when faced with a different environment.
Organic systems, living creatures, evolve or die, become extinct. One organic system has beaten them all.
The most successful organism
I refer to the virus. A form of organisation, machine, system that not only predates life on Earth, but also will be here long after the Earth is lifeless once more.
Let me give you some facts. In a recent experiment a crippled virus evolved to use a new mechanism to attack the bacterium.
It successfully evolved in fifteen days: fifteen days from helpless to invasive.
Do you think this newly evolved virus rapidly infected every bacterium? It began to but then the bacterium evolved a new defence and the cycle of evolution started again.
If a simple bacterium or a simpler virus can evolve in fifteen days, why can’t we design human systems, organisations that evolve as quickly?
Relevance to us
Most of us in any form of human activity know how quickly the environment can change. It doesn’t need to be flu pandemics or banking crises or internet blackouts that cause severe environmental changes.
Our human systems need to copy the virus and the bacterium: we need to experiment and experiment quickly.
Any system, process or procedure is as good as its last outcome was relevant.
How long should you watch and wait when you could try to do something better?
Any human organisation is complex. Nevertheless, it is made of smaller and smaller components at each level in the hierarchy. What would happen if each component had the resources to experiment under its own control?
The experiment with the bacterium and virus was conducted by an intervention by the researcher. This allowed a series of events to take place that led to one mutation after another in rapid succession.
The equivalent in a human organism would be a big experiment where failure was permitted within limits because it has the organisation’s sponsorship.
All our human organisations need to be best adapted to their environment.
They need to be able to adapt faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Evolution is not the whole answer however and revolutionary changes have to be introduced, experimented with and adopted or dropped.
Successful organisations are equipped to test evolutionary ideas: they are capable of rapid experiment and evolution along with a directed experimental revolutionary capability,