Companies as Organisms

Over at Communication Nation:

It’s time to think about what companies really are, and to design with that in mind. Companies are not so much machines as complex, dynamic, growing systems. As they get larger, acquiring smaller companies, entering into joint ventures and partnerships, and expanding overseas, they become “systems of systems” that rival nation-states in scale and reach.

So what happens if we rethink the modern company, if we stop thinking of it as a machine and start thinking of it as a complex, growing system? What happens if we think of it less like a machine and more like an organism? Or even better, what if we compared the company with other large, complex human systems, like, for example, the city?

There are some very good specific points in this article about how you make a successful organism like this.

Spaces need owners. Again, think of the city street: every business or building has an owner. The sidewalks have owners – typically every business at street level “polices” their stretch of sidewalk. And even the street has owners – the street sweeper, the cop on the beat. In the same way, make sure that every online space you create has someone positioned to take care of it, to keep it safe and clean.

This is something people most often get wrong. Communities are gardens, and only flourish with tending. I’ve seen way to many efforts fail because there was an assumption that someone else was going to take care of the community. Things without owners slowly rot. Things only get done when someone makes a decision to do it.

Thanks to Sacha Chua for the link.

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