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Organizations as Brains. Gareth Morgan. G.R. Taylor’s Opening Observations/Questions. Is it possible to design “learning organizations” that have the capacity to be as flexible, resilient, and inventive as the functioning of the brain?

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G.R. Taylor’s Opening Observations/Questions

  • Is it possible to design “learning organizations” that have the capacity to be as flexible, resilient, and inventive as the functioning of the brain?

  • Is it possible to distribute capacities for intelligence and control throughout an enterprise so that the system as a whole can self-organize and evolve along with emerging challenges?


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Herbert Simon

  • Why did Simon argue that organizations can never be completely rational?

    • Because their members have limited information processing abilities.

    • Argued that people a) usually have to act on incomplete information; b) are able to explore on a limited number of alternatives; and c) are unable to attach accurate values to outcomes.

    • He concluded that individuals and organizations settle for “bounded rationality” of “good enough” decisions based on simple rules of thumb and limited search and information.


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Cybernetics

  • What is cybernetics?

    • The ability of a system to engage in self-regulating behaviour depending on the process of information exchange involving negative feedback.


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4 Key Principles of Cybernetic Theory

  • Systems must have the capacity to sense, monitor, and scan significant aspects of their environment.

  • They must be able to relate this information to the operating norms that guide system behaviour.

  • They must be able to detect significant deviations from these norms.

  • They must be able to initiate corrective action when discrepancies are detected.




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Guidelines for “Learning Organizations”

  • Scan and anticipate change in the wider environment to detect significant variations.

  • Develop the ability to question, challenge, and change operating norms and assumptions.

  • Allow an appropriate strategic direction and pattern of organization to emerge.

  • Evolve designs that allow them to become skilled in the art of double-loop learning, to avoid getting trapped in single-loop learning processes.


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Organizations as Holographic Brains

  • How does Morgan describe the metaphor of the holographic brain?


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What are the Principles of Holographic design?

  • Build the “whole” into all the “parts.”

  • The importance of redundancy.

  • Requisite Variety

  • “Minimum Specs”

  • Learn to Learn

    • See chart in text to help discuss examples


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Critical Analysis

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the brain metaphor?