Non-Newtonian Dynamics of Organizations and How To Cope With It

Y. B. Karasik,
Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.
e-mail:karasik@sympatico.ca

Geoff Ficke observes overstaffing, lack of energy and creativity, incompetence and complacency at all large organizations in America ranging from government to established corporations. He, as legions before him, asks one and the same question: "Why do large enterprises incur so much unneeded waste?" - and offers the following banal answer: "Success and maturity typically crimp invention. Energy and ambition are not as highly prized. The entrepreneurial spirit can create fear inside large organizations. Profit, cash and donations dim the urgency to be inventive. Waste is often tolerated after success occurs. Why? Because urgency and leverage are often mitigated as enterprises become fat and happy."

But why does success and maturity crimp invention ? Why does urgency and leverage are often mitigated as enterprises become fat and happy ? Geoff Ficke does not answer these questions.

Meanwhile, the cause is rooted in the non-Newtonian dynamics of enterprises. In Newtonian dynamics acceleration ends when effort ends. But in the world of enterprises dependency between effort and acceleration is quite different. At the initial stage tremendous effort applied to a small organizational mass typically results in no or little acceleration. As mass grows, effort diminishes but acceleration appears. The peak of acceleration coincides with effort dwindled to zero. After that organization continues accelerating for a quite some time, sometimes pretty long. Why would one need effort if acceleration continues ? In order to increase the pace of acceleration ? But this may explode the organization - who knows. It is better to make do with the existing pace of acceleration that comes at no effort and no change rather than risk everything by allowing innovation. That is why innovators (and generally non-smooth people) are expelled. A lot of smooth non-creative ballast jump on band wagon. This surprisingly prolongs acceleration with no effort and with ever increasing mass ! (It is because when enterprise attains some level of success, success starts growing on success and enterprise is forced to expand to sustain this process. Quality of staff ceases to matter. The size begins to matter.) When eventually acceleration halts and deceleration begins, effort returns. But it is already too late. The ballast proliferated throughout the organizational structure. Too much bonds and ties are in place that bringing new energetic people would not make any difference. Effort is doomed to be chaotic and destructive. It produces no acceleration. Enterprise is doomed to lose its market share and eventually disappear.

Although non-Newtonian dynamics of organization seems to be an inalienable law of their evolution, various safeguards were proposed in the past to mitigate its impact. TRIZ may play an indispensable role in inventing new ones. This issue of the journal is devoted to discussing the past proposals as well as to putting forth new safeguards. All interested people are invited to contribute.