Organizations as Brains
Brain as Learning Organization
1) Brains are “flexible, inventive and resilient….”
p. 72.
2) Brains specialize (left/right) but also retain
generalist capabilities (can make up for one
function if another function fails)
3) Mobots show that centralizing brains is less
effective than distributing brain functions.
Brain Image
 “The
brain as a system engages in an
incredibly diverse set of parallel activities
that make complementary and competing
contributions to what eventually emerges
as a coherent pattern.” 75.
Three Metaphors within the Brain
 There
are various ways to view the brain.
We will be talking about three:
 Brains
as Information Processing Systems
 Brains as Cybernetics
 Brains as Holographs
Brains as Information Processing
Brains collect different kinds of information
(rules, words, data, etc) and try to make sense
of the information.
a) brains as bounded rationality -1. Managers used the above idea to try
to control uncertainty
2. March and Simon, however, argue
that “left” and “right” brain should be
integrated: intuition and rationality. Don’t
control uncertainty, work with it (just-in-time)
Brains as Cybernetics
 1)
Brains self regulate through “negative
A) Assess the environment
B) Match environment with norms
C) Assess deviations from norms
D) Use “negative feedback” to get back on
Negative Feedback
 Single
Loop versus Double Loop
Working with Uncertainty: the
Progressive Organization
 1)
See the environment as changing.
 2) Consistently question operating norms
“why do we do it this way?”
 3) Allow new patters to emerge
 4) Use double loop learning (TQM and
Brains as Holographs
 A hologram
is a type of image in which the
whole is created in every one of the parts;
the organization can self generate during
times of chaos
1) Build the whole into the parts
Corporate DNA: Everyone shares the same vision,
values and goals.
• Networked Intelligence –
• Holographic Structure –
• Holistic teams and Diversified Roles –
2) Redundancy
 3) Requisite Variety
 4) Minimum Specs
 5) Learning to Learn
Strengths and Weaknesses
1) Values people; diversity; uncertainty;
2) Managers May resist because they would
have to give up power and be self-critical.
you were to apply the
metaphor, which concepts
would be critical to include?

Chapter 4 Organizations as Brains