Tagged: synaptic

Forty three (iii)

“Have you heard of the Quantified Self?” he asked us all. Nope.

“It’s about using technology to record data about your personal life in terms of inputs such as what you eat and drink, states such as mood or heart rate, and mental and physical performance. Only by recording the data can we spot correlations that might prove useful if they turn out to be cause and effect. Only by sharing personal data sets with others can we attempt to find wider patterns.”

“Ah yes,” said Yvonne, “one of my friends wears a wristband that records stuff and uploads it to her phone I believe.”

“So that might tell her how well she’s sleeping for example, and she can ascertain what factors in the way she lives affect her quality of sleep,” Saket replied. “Then, if she’s having trouble sleeping, instead of masking the problem with sleeping pills, she can adjust the way she lives to sleep better naturally.”

“And you’re saying you can treat an organization just the same?” I asked.

“Yes. This takes us back to big data and your conversations with John and your friend Dom. Only by gathering as much data together as possible can we spot, or rather have software spot patterns we wouldn’t otherwise know about.”

“So is this contradicting the idea of organizational synapses?” I asked.

“It’s not yet entirely clear to me, but I think there are ways in which they complement rather than contradict.”

Forty three (i)

Saket made some comments about organizations becoming increasingly biomorphic; i.e. resembling living organisms. These contributions didn’t make the final report because the comments were fleeting and came just as everyone was becoming more interested in the afternoon break, but I thought you’d like them. They’ve definitely fuelled the dinner conversation between Dom and me.

One biomorphic metaphor treats everyone as if they were a synapse in the brain. Important messages are passed across the synapse and less important ones don’t make it. The same goes for sharing information around the organization. Whereas traditional business relies on some bureaucracy to determine what constitutes organizational knowledge, this function is delegated to the individual who now determines whether something is worth sharing / passing on or not, explicitly or tacitly.

Apparently, this has serious ramifications for the organization’s hierarchy in so much as there won’t be one. Or more precisely, the organization will have the right structure at the right time; today’s will suit today’s environment, tomorrow’s will suit tomorrow’s.

Attenzi isn’t ready for this.

I think Saket sensed as much and suggested it was indeed time for coffee. And no one argued. But John, Yvonne, Saket and I continued the thread during the break.

“Saket, that last bit was a bit out there!” John said.

“’Out there’ as in down the road, or ‘out there’ as in way off the money?” Saket asked with characteristic precision.

“Well, I mean, compared to our understanding today of our use of our information network.”

“Yes, that’s a good point,” Saket replied. “So when we map the information network we find it is, inevitably, far from what anyone might ever describe as perfect – information is in the wrong place and wrong format at the wrong time – and we’re left short of knowing exactly what to do about it. ‘Let’s communicate more!’ we all shout, as if this old truism is somehow going to solve the problem without further cutting into the time we’re actually supposed to be doing stuff.”

We nodded in agreement.

“Would anyone like more meetings? More email?”

We shook our heads in agreement.