Structural aspects of LOs LO30343

From: leo minnigh (
Date: 07/09/03

Replying to LO30327

Hello Keith,

Thank you very much for your question. It gives me the opportunity to
share my thoughts on the subject of structural aspects of LOs. Therefore
I have changed the subject header. It is a wise thing not to think too
long in one direction (the environment of a LO), but stimulate the mind to
meander towards e.g. the internal aspects. For clarity I reproduce your

> Leo Minnigh wrote:
> >...single cell could live on its own, it seems more complex than
> >the cells in e.g. our bodies. Our cells are not able to survive without a
> >whole bunch of other cells.
> The analogy to living organisms stimulates some interesting thoughts, Leo.
> I see the parallel between the individual entrepreneur who must handle
> everything being like the single cell that can mutate to survive, and the
> cells of our bodies being more like the functions in a large organization.
> The rate of mutation in the larger body is generally slower and according
> to Darwin, this causes some to die off that cannot mutate quickly enough.
> Would this lead you to the conclusion that LO behaviours are essential to
> long-term survival of an organization?
> Regards... Keith

Yes Keith, but it is more than just survival (as you stipulated). I come
back to it later.

Analogies with nature in general and living organisms in particular, are
not only inspiring but also instructive to learn more about LO. The single
cell organism, or the individual entrepreneur could have indeed more
flexibility than the multicellular organisations. However, we should think
in the right order here. It is the fact that single cells exist, that they
appear to have the capacity to survive. All those who died (and thus miss
that capacity) dont exist. This sounds trivial, but isnt, in my opinion.

And with this observation, we could say that it is not the simple matter of
survival which counts. It is, as Keith pointed rightly, the ability to
mutate. It is the capacity to evolve! Or in other words: it is
the capacity to emerge, it means the positive path after a bifurcation. I
think that many companies in these days are more busy with surviving, than
with evolving. And with a changing environment, and not the ability to
evolve, means an immergence - the negative path. The organisation will fall
apart in smaller units, which have not learned to live on their own and thus
will die off.
So here we are again at the issue of evolution, the creational 'jump' to a
higher order of complexity. This means a restructuring of the complete
organisation. Why are small organisations, like the single cell or the
individual entrepreneur, more capable to evolve than larger organisations?
The reasons are mentioned earlier on this list (but possibly in other
Any organisation represents a certain amount of energy (related to the
mass). The total amount of energy of an organisation (Etot) is partly used
for survival (Esurv), it means to maintain its structure; the energy which
is then still available is the free energy (Efree), which could be used for
work, production, learning, etc.and evolution (!). Thus
Etot = Esurv + Efree

The crux is that the Esurv for a small organisation is relatively less
than for a large org. Probably it is somewhat related to the third power
of the mass (size). It means also that large orgs have not so much Efree
for productivity and evolving. The ant is relatively stronger than the
elephant. And things become even worse if the internal structure is
chaotic and not well ordered, it means that even more Esurv is needed to
survive, and thus less is left for work.

Ok. Now we have this general mechanism, the question remains how looks the
internal structure of an organisation which has the potential to evolve into
a LO? It thus means that enough Efree must be available. And it also means
that the internal structure 'reshuffles' into a more complex, and also more
efficient structure. With efficient, I mean that it costs relatively less
Esurv than the previous situation. Perhaps we can learn again frrom
analogies from nature. We could look for instance to the differences in
internal structure between species low on the evolutionary ladder, and
species higher up.
The first lesson we could learn is that size (growth) is not the 100% sure
path. Dinosaurs were larger than human beings. And thus, business
organisations are not necessarily successful in the future if they are only
focussed on growth. Not in the least because of the far more Esurv is
The second lesson is the highly specialised organs in species at the end of
the evolutionary ladder which not only form a symbiosis together (living
together), but more important - they from a symlaboris (working together; I
am not a latinist, so this invented word is probably not correct). No organ
can live and work without all the others (perhaps there are some minor
exeptions), it means that the total organisation should be realy a whole. We
immediately see from this analogy that in business orgs this important
condition is not always present (for instance the examples of
mis-communications and independent working of PR-departments and R&D
departments are countless). But we see also thatt there is no department
more important than another (some managers should realise this).
The third lesson are the complex networks of communications between organs
(nerves) and of food supply and drain away of waste (bloodvessels). Most
business orgs could still learn a lot of these two separated networks (but
which communicate als with each other!).

Keith, there are many. many more lessons. But there is still one which I
like to mention. It is the flexible adaptation of changing environmental
And so we are back to the beginning of this dialogue. How reacts a human
body to a hot sunny day (sorry, At, you must wait for another season :-) -
faste pumping around of the blood, rapid breathing and ofcourse sweating.
The body has much more work to do than on an average day, but how does the
body manage that it cools down, instead of becoming hotter? And what does
the body on a cold day?
How reacts a company on an overheated economy, and how does it react on a

Today I received via a CC from At de Lange a new contribution on the
relationships between environment and organisations. Please incorporate
that message with this one. It will probably published in the same digest
as this one.

I changed the subject header to focus more on internal structures of
organisations. There is still so much more to say. For instance the mutual
relationships between organs (departments) and the relative positions of
these organs. Why is the heart not situated in our head, and why are our
brains not in a more central placxe situated? Are there analogues of these
organs with certain departments in companies?

Best wishes,

Leo Minnigh


"leo minnigh" <>

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