Lossy Compression Thoughts about Organisations
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Let's be Fwends is a journal about technology, experiences and the media landscape. And most importantly the role of all of us in all of that. It's about culture and it is about design. It's about marketing and it is about tech.
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Let's be Fwends #120:
Lossy Compression Thoughts about Organisations
"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers." ~Sokrates
Welcome to this edition of Let's Be Fwends. Today, we dive into the different mental models we can apply when looking at organisations, and the consequences these models have on the inner workings of those organisations. Then, there's an interesting study that might make you look like a fool if you've been complaining how low the attention span of people nowadays is. With all the buzz around Generative AI, it's important to hear the counter-point that says we should probably stay away from this kind of technology all together. And finally, there are the ten rules by which you play that game called "life." (I wonder how much the rules would differ were they written for an Artificial Intelligence)
How Mental Models Shape Organisations
We use metaphors to compare a thing that is very difficult to grasp with something that is much easier to understand and conceptualise. But by doing so, we are reducing information. The more radical the metaphor, the more radical the information loss is. Think about it like lossy compression.
An organisation consisting of many dozens of people is of course not a machine. But you can think about it as one. By reducing each of those persons to their function and role, you can consider them parts of a bigger machine.
This idea of an organisation being a machine will affect the way you think about it, as well as your actions if you're inside that machine.
- as a machine
- as an organism
- as a brain
- as a cultural system
- as a political system
- as a psychic prison
- as an instrument of domination
- flux and transformation
There is no "good" or "bad" way to think about organisations. Only contexts in which the one or the other works better or worse.
(On the other hand, I do think that all humans are worthy of being treated as humans, and any dehumanizing concepts of work are off limits and inherently bad)
Even More Org Models
And if eight ways of thinking about organisations isn't enough for you, Sergio Caredda compiled a list of 36 different organisation models, structures and frameworks from which to choose. Just in case you're bored and want to remodel your org a couple of times.
People are Better at Paying Attention Than 30 Years Ago
Hey, so you think that everything was better in the past? That people were able to hold a conversation better, or could better focus on a specific task? That all the distractions and gizmos are turning us in the the proverbial goldfish with an absurdly short attention span?
Apparently, that's not the case. At least not according to a study conducted at the University of Vienna that found out that the ability to concentrate keeps rising for adults. Interestingly, the same cannot be said about kids, who test faster, but also make more mistakes.
So, it looks like the kids really are alright, at least once they've grown up.
Might We be Better off Without AI?
He summarises his concerns like this:
Artificial intelligence might end the world. More likely, it will crush our ability to make sense of the world—and so will crush our ability to act in it. AI will make critical decisions that we cannot understand. (...) We will feel our loss of understanding as pervasive helplessness and meaninglessness.
I tend to agree that employing a system that due to its inherent properties (cough ... complexity ... cough) cannot be understood in a deterministic sense of the word can be marvellously dangerous and can lead to disastrous outcomes. (And as Murphy's Law - penned by Augustus de Morgan - tells us: Whatever can happen will happen)
An interesting hook into the whole thing is the last sentence I quoted: That we might even be unable to attribute our increasing loss of understanding to the usage of AI, and instead pin it onto some more abstract idea like meaning and agency.
Ten Rules of Being Human
You will receive a body. You may love it or hate it, but it will be yours for the duration of your life on Earth.
You will be presented with lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called ‘life.’ Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or hate them, but you have designed them as part of your curriculum.
There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation, a series of trials, errors, and occasional victories. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that work.
A lesson is repeated until learned. Lessons will be repeated to you in various forms until you have learned them. When you have learned them, you can then go on to the next lesson.
Learning does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
“There” is no better than “here”. When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain a “there” that will look better to you than your present “here”.
Others are only mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.
What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you.
Your answers lie inside of you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
You will forget all of this at birth. You can remember it if you want by unraveling the double helix of inner knowing.
When I asked the friendly GAI over at bing to create the artwork for todays edition, here's what I wrote for the prompt: "there are no mistakes, only lessons". The rest it did on it's own and I somehow find that endearing. That's it for this edition of Let's be Fwends. Thanks for reading. ❤️