What about ants and flat organisation?

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Thoughts | No Comments
What about ants and flat organisation?

I’m a big fan of flat organisation. I read about the treehouse’s practice to run a no manager company many times, I’m constantly looking at ways I can work with others in this fashion. Truth is, I was never interested to run an organisation with many people and hierarchy and flat organisation seems to be the only way I can work with.

So when I was watching this TED talk about ants this morning. The first thing came up to my mind was not brains, cells or computer network, but flat organisation. While Deborah was comparing the behaviours of ants with these things, I kept noting down similar behaviours in a flat organisation.

No central control

With the end goal in mind. All interactions and decisions happen between the network of people. No management will tell anyone what to do.

Operating cost

When operating cost is high and resource is low, stay stop until something positive happens. So when the organisation is running against their limit of resources, actions should be taken carefully and minimise risks. When operating cost is low and resource is high, only stop when something negative happens. So when the organisation has rich resources, it should constantly explore new territories until there is a threat.

Offspring and parent colonies

In an organisation, we are not talking about family tree but leadership. People are attracted to leaders even though they might not work with them directly. Similar to the colonies who are smart about using resources, leaders who act appropriately will gain trust from their followers and therefore have a better and long lasting career.

Collective search

Many new companies are doing this with the help of internet nowadays. Instead of having an elite research team to learn new things from scratch. A better and more affordable way is to utilise the collective wisdom of the public. People who care enough to help are the best. They might not know about the whole picture, but with many of them completing one large picture, it’s much more efficient than a small team.

The trail of ants

When there are opportunities found by one or more of the organisation members, communications should be made to recruit more members to focus on the new cluster of opportunities. Of course, this might come across some resistance from self ego, personal interests in the case of a bad fit. But then, bad fits shouldn’t be there at the first place.

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