Many organisations strive to create more structure, hierarchy and control because industrial age organisation models dictate that this will increase productivity and efficiency. However, nowadays we must conclude that this approach most likely has an opposite effect, making the organisation less intelligent.
While the above thesis has long been a suspicion backed by experience, it is now substantiated by peer reviewed science. In his 2014 TED presentation Mr. Alexander Wissner-Gross PhD, lecturing Physics at Havard University and working for 20 years on Artificial Intelligence Systems, presented a new definition for intelligence. This definition states, that we should think of intelligence as "A force that always strives to maximize future freedom of action”. Or simply said, systems with little structural restrictions are more intelligent. Vice versa, more structure and hierarchy leads to less intelligent systems.
One of the main reasons for this is that hierarchy can lead to an organisation culture of obedience, where people are afraid to question authority or speak up with new ideas. In such an environment, innovation is stifled and creativity is limited to those in positions of power. This can ultimately lead to a lack of adaptability and an inability to keep up with the changing needs of stakeholders.
Additionally, too much structure can also create bureaucracy and slow decision-making processes. This is because decision-making is often centralised at the top, leaving those on the ground with little autonomy or authority to make meaningful decisions. This often results in a lack of responsiveness to emerging issues and can cause problems to snowball before they are addressed. Furthermore, a highly structured organization can stifle employee engagement and motivation. When employees feel that their role is simply to follow orders, they are less likely to take ownership of their work and contribute ideas. This can lead to a decline in image, morale and productivity, as well as high turnover rates.
To combat these negative effects, organisations should consider adopting a more decentralised and mutual beneficial approach, like such of natural self-organising collectives: Swarms. This involves creating role-based cross-functional teams, promoting open communication, and encouraging employees at all levels to contribute ideas and solutions. This will foster a culture of innovation and collaboration, allowing the organization to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changes in the market.
Industrial Age organisation principles of structure and hierarchy can provide a sense of order and control, but they also limit an organisation's ability to innovate and adapt. By promoting autonomy, inclusivity, and collaboration, organisations can create a more intelligent and responsive workplace that can thrive in an ever-changing world.
Do you want to improve the motivation, engagement and adaptive capacity of your organisation? Then look into the intriguing possibilities of SWARM Organisation. We believe in organisations are more enjoyable, sustainable and profitable, for people and planet.
If you like to know how we do this, just give us call !
Evert Bleijenberg MBA
Handwritten by Author without the help of AI