06 October 2009

Brain theory and Holistic organizations

The other day we learned about the intriguing Brain Theory. In an organization, brain theory applies to a distribution of information. It says that every job in an organization should be known by at least one other person. At first this seems like an ideal organization one capable of recovering from any disaster, hardship or vacation. But such an organization has an inherent flaw: such an intensive level of information sharing would bog down the normal lines of communication until the organization ground to a help. So an alternative is available: allow each secondary section to have moderately out of date information. This would reduce efficiency but also reduce the amount of information flowing and thus let the different section focus on their primary function while allowing secondary information to trickle in over time instead of flooding in constantly. A balance would need to be struck between how often the information would need to be updated versus how efficient you expect the replacement worker to be.

An example of this can be seen, or experienced, when mothers take the night off leaving the father to tend to the children. Although they are part of the same organization (unlike a babysitter/temp worker) the husband is taking on a role that he doesn’t normally fulfill, thus is required to have a secondary knowledge of the mother’s functions. Sometimes the father’s knowledge or skills of keeping up the mother’s routines are lacking enough that the father just lets the children do as they please. Sometimes his secondary knowledge and skills are fresh enough that he can maintain the mother’s pace without missing a step.

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