This article is the introduction to a series of five. If you would like to read them all, a pdf containing them can be downloaded here.
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.H.G.Wells from “When the Sleeper Wakes”, 1899.
The description of an organisation given in the previous posts is relatively simple. However, there are very many organisations in the world, and each can interact with others in a variety of ways. This leads to enormous complexity and unpredictability, which can be daunting. Fortunately, human organisation has a recursive structure, comprising organisations within organisations, and each organisation has a limited number of variables. These are:
- The quality of decision making and commands (discussed in more detail in the next two articles).
- The quality of implementation of commands (discussed in more detail in a future article).
- The quality of communication of commands.
- The extent to which those with command responsibility are chosen by top-down or bottom-up representation (discussed in more detail in a future article).
- The extent to which an organisation adapts internally to changes in its inputs, as opposed to influencing its environment to maintain them.
- The attitude of the organisation in its relationships with others.
- The proportion of the organisation’s inputs spent on self-maintenance, as opposed to producing outputs.
- The extent to which the organisation is efficient.
- The extent to which the organisation contains redundancies and is resilient.
To help understand these variables, I have designed causal diagrams which can be downloaded here. These diagrams can be translated into the natural language explanations given in the following articles. It is recommended that the reader downloads the diagrams and follows them as he or she reads each article. This will give a better understanding of both the diagrams and the text.
Desirable changes to organisational behaviour can be identified in several ways. However, each involves asking the following three questions:
- What do we wish to achieve?
- What key changes in basic organisational behaviour will achieve that?
- How do we go about making those changes?
A simple root cause analysis can be carried out. This involves identifying an undesirable event, repetitively asking the question “why?”, and backtracking through the diagrams from effect to cause.
The diagrams can also be translated into Symbolic Logic. This enables formal deductions and inductions to be carried out. The method of translation can be downloaded here, and the methods for carrying out deductions and inductions are described in my book, “The Mathematics of Language and Thought”, which can be downloaded here.
Theoretically, system dynamics can also be applied to the diagrams. However, this would require numerical quantification of the variables. Unfortunately, the quantification of human beliefs and attitudes is fraught with difficulty. Thus, much research effort would first be needed before a systems dynamics approach to human organisation was practicable.