Transforming OurSpace Using Thinker's Thoughts
November 2007 - Shel Rovin



Nature optimizes, organizations function sub-optimally because they are addicted to maximizing.

To optimize means to achieve just the right amount - a value between too little and too much. Too much or too little of almost any nutrient in the blood can kill you: sugar, calcium, etc. At the molecular level there are elaborate management systems that maintain optimum levels of these nutrients. Mechanisms are present that precisely regulate concentrations of essential chemicals and shut down production when optimum levels are reached and start up production when they fall below critical levels. Our bodies have mechanisms that tell us when we have too much or too little sleep or exercise, and so on.

There are no such built-in mechanisms in our organizations. Moreover, in organizations the different units generally try to maximize, to get as much resources as they can, irrespective of other units and sometimes in competition with them. Paradoxically, each part of an optimally performing system cannot be performing at its best. Why? Because this would mean: the part would have all the resources it wants, the part could go as fast as it wants, and the part would be self-contained, that is, not depend on the other parts. The absurdity of this trio, I hope, is apparent.

Humans have a tendency to maximize or try to maximize power, wealth, pleasure, security..... We ignore natures message that too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

What do you think?