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July 23, 2007


Matthew Wright

Creating modular and flexible models reflects the universal shift from 'industrial' - not just in a physical sense, but in a psychological sense too. Alvin Toffler predicted this breakdown with real accuracy by looking at organisations at macro and societal levels. Overlay this with the gradual shift by business towards design (as verb and as noun) to both support differentiation and to find improved methods, and a fantastic intersection presents itself - one where organisations understand the value of thinking, playing and doing in an organisational design context. As a naive designer, I'm very excited by the application of this approach - especially in the public and government space... pity I won't be around long enough to see the fruits of anyones labour!

Martin Koser

Hmmm, somehow the trackback has not gone through, so I'll do it manually:


Brook Reams

There is a tension between engineering methods and social systems whose dynamics largely involve people and their PIA behaviors (aka, unpredicitable) :-)

I believe "modularity" and its leverage within engineering relies on a fundamental property of the physical world - deterministic behavior quantifiable using the language of mathematics and "cause and effect" principles of physics and chemistry. This mean, module interfaces can be designed once and used repeatedly without concern for "unpredictable" changes in their behavior.

I am quite sceptical that any use of the engineering model for repeatable reuse of modules will bear fruit when applied to processes whose effects are dominated by non-deterministic "human whim".

This raises a fundamental question about how useful "organizational modeling" is, or better stated, how would one apply it "usefully"? In Computational Fluid Dynamics, modeling predicts fluid flow paths, pressure distributions and other measurable physical properties with sufficient accuracy to "adequately predict" the behavior of a design in the "real world". That's because the model has captured the essence of the turbulent flow field needed for prediction.

Human "cussidness" would seem to limit the extent to which "deterministic" modeling can provide useful predictions of future behavior. So, using these tools for this purpose seems "unuseful".

But, the mind is limited in its ability to think about the breadth of possible scenarios that could occur, and to think through how to behave should any one of them occur. I think this is the sense that "organizational modeling" has some value: It helps identify many scenarios so that folks have had time to consider them and how they might react.

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