Chapter 4 Organizations as Brains

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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
Metaphor
 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
Systems
1)
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
feedback”




A) Assess the environment
B) Match environment with norms
C) Assess deviations from norms
D) Use “negative feedback” to get back on
course.
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
ringi)
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;
intution

2) Managers May resist because they would
have to give up power and be self-critical.
If
you were to apply the
metaphor, which concepts
would be critical to include?
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