Brain Hologram Metaphor Essay Research Paper Brain

Brain (Hologram) Metaphor Essay, Research Paper Brain (hologram) Metaphor I. Introduction -Brain would be an obvious metaphor for organization particularly if our concern is to improve capacities for organizational intelligence. -Brain has been compared with a holographic system, one of the marvels of laser science -Holography uses a lenseless camera to record information in a way that stores the whole in all the parts -interacting beams of light create an interference pattern that scatters the information being recorded on a photographic plate, known as a hologram, which can then be illuminated to recreate the original information. -one of the interesting features of the hologram is that if it’s broken, any single piece can be used to reconstruct the entire image. -everything is enfolded into everything else. -holography demonstrates in a very concrete way that it is possible to create processes where the whole can be encoded in all the parts, so that each and every part represents the whole.

Brain (Hologram) Metaphor Essay, Research Paper

Brain (hologram) Metaphor I. Introduction -Brain would be an obvious metaphor for organization particularly if our concern is to improve capacities for organizational intelligence. -Brain has been compared with a holographic system, one of the marvels of laser science -Holography uses a lenseless camera to record information in a way that stores the whole in all the parts -interacting beams of light create an interference pattern that scatters the information being recorded on a photographic plate, known as a hologram, which can then be illuminated to recreate the original information. -one of the interesting features of the hologram is that if it’s broken, any single piece can be used to reconstruct the entire image. -everything is enfolded into everything else. -holography demonstrates in a very concrete way that it is possible to create processes where the whole can be encoded in all the parts, so that each and every part represents the whole. Ii. Brains and organizations as holographic systems -holographic character of the brain is most clearly reflected in the patterns of connectivity through which each nerve cell is connected with hundreds of thousands of others, allowing a system of functioning that is both generalized and specialized. Different regions of the brain seem to specialize in different activities, but the control and execution of specific behaviors is by no means as localized as was once thought. Thus, while we can distinguish between the functions performed by the cortex (the captain or master planner which controls all nonroutine activity, and perhaps memory), the cerebellum (the computer or automatic pilot taking care of routine activity), and the mid-brain (the center of feelings, smell, and emotion), we are obliged to recognize that they are all closely interdependent and capable of acting on behalf of each other when necessary. We also know that right and left brains combine to produce patterns of thought, and that the distinction between the functions of these hemispheres as the domains of creative and analytic capacities is accompanied by more general patterns of connectivity. For example, the creative or analogical right brain is richly joined to the limbic system and the emotions. The principle of connectivity and generalized function is also reflected in the way neurons serve both as communication channels and as a locus of specific activity or memory recall. It is believed that each neuron may be as complex as a small computer and capable of storing vast amounts of information. The pattern of rich connectivity between neurons allows simultaneous processing of information in different parts of the brain, a receptivity to different kinds of information at one and the same time, and an amazing capacity to be aware of what is going on elsewhere. The secret of the brain’s capacities seems to depend more on this connectivity, which is the basis of holographic diffusion, than of differentiation of structure. The brain is composed of repetitive units of the same kind (there may only be three basic types of brain cell), so that we find different functions being sustained by very similar structures. The importance of connectivity in accounting for complexity of functioning is also reinforced by comparisons between human and animal brains. For example, elephants have much larger brains than humans, but they are by no means so richly joined. An interesting aspect of his connectivity rests in the fact it creates a much greater degree of cross-connection and exchange than may be needed at any given time. However, this redundancy is crucial for creating holographic potential and for ensuring flexibility in operation. The redundancy allows the brain to operate in a probabilistic rather than a deterministic manner, allows considerable room to accommodate random error, and creates an excess capacity that allows new activities and functions to develop. In other words, it facilitates the process of self-organization whereby internal structure and functioning can evolve along with changing circumstances. This self-organizing capacity has been demonstrated in numerous ways. For example, when brain damage occurs it is not uncommon for different areas of the brain to take on the functions which have been impaired. The brain has this amazing capacity to organize and reorganize itself to deal with the contingencies it faces. Experiments have shown that the more we engage in a specific activity, e.g. playing tennis, typing, or reading, the more the brain adjusts itself to facilitate the kind of functioning required. The simple idea that “practice makes perfect” is underwritten by a complex capacity for self-organization whereby the brain forges or revises patterns of neuronic activity. For example, experiments where monkeys were trained to use a finger to press a lever thousands of times a day showed that the areas of the brain controlling that finger increased in size and changed in organization. Our awareness leads us to see the brain as a system which, in no small measure, has played an important role in designing itself in the course of evolution. Now, to our basic problem: how can we use these insights about the holographic character of the brain to create organizations that are able to learn and self-organize in the manner of a brain? Our discussion provides many clues. For example, it suggests that by building patterns of rich connectivity between similar parts we can create systems that are both specialized and generalized, and that are capable of reorganizing internal structure and function as they learn to meet the challenges posed by new demands. The holographic principle has a great deal running in its favor. For the capacities of the brain are already distributed throughout modern organizations. All the employees have brains, and computers are in essence simulated brains. In this sense, important aspects of the whole are already embodied in the parts. The development of more holographic, brainlike forms of organization thus rests in the realization of a potential that already exists. III. Facilitating Self-Organization: Principles of Holographic Design Get the whole into the parts. Create connectivity and redundancy. Create simultaneous specialization and generalization. Create a capacity to self-organize. These are things that have to be done to create holographic organization. Our task now is to examine the means. Much can be learned from the way the brain is organized, and much can be learned from cybernetic principles. Four interacting principles (see chart) The principle of redundant function shows a means of building wholes into parts by creating redundancy, connectivity, and simultaneous specialization and generalization. The principle of requisite variety helps to provide practical guidelines for the design of part-whole relations by showing exactly how much of the whole needs to be built into a given part. And the principles of learning to learn and minimum critical specification show how we can enhance capacities for self-organization. Any system with an ability to self-organize must have an element of redundancy: a form of excess capacity which, appropriately designed and used, creates room for maneuver. Without such redundancy, a system has no real capacity to reflect on and question how it is operating, and hence to change its mode of functioning in constructive ways. In other words, it has no capacity for intelligence in the sense of being able to adjust action to take account of changes in the nature of relationships within which the action is set. Australian systems theorist Fred Emery has suggested that there are two methods for designing redundancy into a system. The first involves redundancy of parts, where each part is precisely designed to perform a specific function, special parts being added to the system for the purpose of control and to back up or replace operating parts whenever they fail. This design principle is mechanistic and the result is typically a hierarchical structure where one part is responsible for controlling another. If we look around the organizational world it is easy to see evidence of this kind of redundancy: the supervisor who spends his or her time ensuring that others are working; the maintenance team that “stands by” waiting for problems to arise; the employee idly passing time because there’s no work to do; employee X passing a request to colleague Y “because that’s his job not mine”; the quality controller searching for defects which, under a different system, could much more easily be rectified by those who produced them. Under this design principle the capacity for redesign and change of the system rests with the parts assigned this function; for example, production engineers, planning teams, and systems designers. Such systems are organized and can be reorganized, but they have little capacity to self-organize. The second design method incorporates a redundancy of functions. Instead of spare parts being added to a system, extra functions are added to each of the operating parts, so that each part is able to engage in a range of functions rather than just perform a single specialized activity. An example of this design principle is found in organizations employing autonomous work groups, where members acquire multiple skills so that they are able to perform each other’s jobs and substitute for each other as the need arises. At any one time, each member possesses skills that are redundant in the sense that they are not being used for the job at hand. However, this organizational design possesses flexibility and a capacity for reorganization within each and every part of the system. Systems based on redundant functions are holographic in that capacities relevant for the functioning of the whole are built into the parts. This creates a completely new relationship between part and whole. In a design based on redundant parts, e.g. an assembly line where production worker, supervisors, efficiency experts, and quality controllers have fixed roles to perform, the whole is the sum of predesigned parts. In the holographic design, on the other hand, the parts reflect the nature of the whole, since they take their specific shape at any one time in relation to the contingencies and problems arising in the total situation. When a problem arises on an assembly-line it is typically viewed as “someone else’s problem,” since those operating the line often do not know, care about, or have the authority to deal with the problems posed. Remedial action has to be initiated and controlled from elsewhere. A degree of passivity and neglect is thus built into the system. This contrasts with systems based on redundant functions, where the nature of one’s job is set by the changing pattern of demands with which one is dealing. Needless to say, the two design principles create qualitatively different relationships between people and their work. Under a system of redundant parts involvement is partial and instrumental, and under the principle of redundant function more holistic and all-absorbing. In implementing this kind of organizational design one inevitably runs into the question, how much redundancy should be built into any given part? While the holographic principle suggests that we should try and build everything into everything else, in many human systems this is an impossible ideal. For example, in many modern organizations the range of knowledge and skills required is such that it is impossible for everybody to become skilled in everything. So what do we do? It is here that the idea of requisite variety becomes important. This is the principle, originally formulated by the English cybernetician W. Ross Ashby, that suggests that the internal diversity of any self-regulating system must match the variety and complexity of its environment if it is to deal with the challenges posed by that environment. Or to put the matter slightly differently, any control system must be as varied and complex as the environment being controlled. In the context of holographic design, this means that all elements of an organization should embody critical dimensions of the environment with which they have to deal, so that they can self-organize to cope with the demands they are likely to face. The principle of requisite variety thus gives clear guidelines as to how the principle of redundant functions would be applied. It suggests that redundancy (variety) should always be built into a system where it is directly needed, rather than at a distance. This means that close attention must be paid to the boundary relations between organizational units and their environments, to ensure that requisite variety always falls within the unit in question. What is the nature of the environment being faced? Can all the skills for dealing with this environment be possessed by every individual? If so, then build around multifunctioned people, as in the model of the autonomous work group discussed earlier. If not, then build around multifunctioned teams that collectively possess the requisite skills and abilities and where each individual member is as generalized as possible, creating a pattern of overlapping skills and knowledge bases in the team overall. It is here that we find a means of coping with the problem that everybody can’t be skilled in everything. Organization can be developed in a cellular manner around self-organizing, multidisciplined groups that have the requisite skills and abilities to deal with the environment in a holistic and integrated way. The principle of requisite variety has important implications for the design of almost every aspect of organization. Whether we are talking about the creation of a corporate planning group, a research department, or a work group in a factory, it argues in favor of a proactive embracing of the environment in all its diversity. Very often managers do the reverse, reducing variety in order to achieve greater internal consensus. For example, corporate planning teams are often built around people who think along the same lines, rather than around a diverse set of stakeholders who can actually represent the complexity of the problems with which the team ultimately has to deal. The principles of redundant functions and requisite variety create systems that have a capacity for self-organization. For this capacity to be realized and to assume coherent direction, however, two further organizing principles also have to be kept in mind: the principles of minimum critical specification and of learning to learn.

The first of these principles reverses the bureaucratic principle that organizational arrangements need to be defined as clearly and as precisely as possible. For in attempting to organize in this way one eliminates the capacity for self-organization. The principle of minimum critical specification suggests that managers and organizational designers should primarily adopt a facilitating or orchestrating role, creating “enabling conditions” that allow a system to find its own form. It thus has close links with the idea of “inquiry-driven action,” discussed earlier. One of the advantages of the principle of redundant functions is that it creates a great deal of internal flexibility. The more one attempts to specify or predesign what should occur, the more one erodes this flexibility. The principle of minimum critical specification attempts to preserve flexibility by suggesting that, in general, one should specify no more than is absolutely necessary for a particular activity to occur. For example, in running a meeting it may be necessary to have someone to chair the meeting and to take notes, but it is not necessary to institutionalize the process and have a chairperson and a secretary. Roles can be allowed to change and evolve according to circumstances. In a group or project bureaucratic patterns of fixed hierarchical leadership can be replaced by a heterarchical pattern, where the dominant element at any given time depends on the total situation. Different people can take the initiative on different occasions according to the contribution they are able to make. Instead of making roles clear and separate, roles can be left deliberately ambiguous and overlapping, so that they can be clarified through practice and inquiry. The basic idea is to create a situation where inquiry rather than predesign provides the main driving force. This helps to keep organization flexible and diversified, while capable of evolving structure sufficient and appropriate to deal with the problems that arise. The principle of minimum critical specification thus helps preserve the capacities for self-organization that bureaucratic principles usually erode. The danger of such flexibility, however, is that it has the potential to become chaotic. This is why the principle of learning to learn must be developed as a fourth element of holographic design. As will be recalled from earlier discussion, a system’s capacity for coherent self-regulation and control depends on its ability to engage in processes of single- and double-loop learning. These allow a system to guide itself with reference to a set of coherent values or norms, while questioning whether these norms provide an appropriate basis for guiding behavior. For a holographic system to acquire integration and coherence and to evolve in response to changing demands, these learning capacities must be actively encouraged. In an autonomous work group, for example, members must both value the activities in which they are engaged and the products that they produce, and remain open to the kinds of learning that allow them to question, challenge, and change the design of these activities and products. Given that there are so few predetermined rules for guiding behavior, direction and coherence must come from the group members themselves as they set and honor the shared values and norms that evolve along with changing circumstances. One of the most important functions of those responsible for designing and managing the kind of “enabling conditions” referred to earlier is that of helping to create a context that fosters this kind of shared identity and learning orientation. Herbert Simon has suggested that hierarchy is the adaptive form for finite intelligence to assume in the face of complexity. He illustrates this principle with a tale of two watchmakers. Both make good watches, but one is far more successful because instead of assembling the watches piece by piece as if he were building a mosaic, he constructs his watches by forming subassemblies of about ten parts each, which can then be joined with other subassemblies to create subsystems of a higher order. These can then be assembled to form the complete watch. In other words, the successful watchmaker has discovered the principle of hierarchy. By organizing in this way the watchmaker can exercise great control over the process of assembly and tolerate frequent interruptions and setbacks. He can thus achieve a much greater rate of productivity than his competitor, who, when interrupted, has to start all over again. It can be shown mathematically that if the watch comprises a thousand parts, and the assembly process is interrupted an average of once in every hundred assembling operations, the mosaic method will take four thousand times longer than the systems approach to assemble a single watch. Simon uses the parable to illustrate the importance of hierarchy in complex systems, and to argue that systems will evolve much more rapidly if there are stable intermediate forms. Cybernetician W. Ross Ashby has made the similar point that no complex adaptive system can succeed in achieving a steady state in a reasonable period of time unless the process can occur subsystem by subsystem, each subsystem being relatively independent of the others. The same is true of self-organizing systems. If their organization is completely random they will take an almost infinite amount of time to complete any complex task. If, however, they use their autonomy to learn how to find appropriate patterns of connectivity, they can develop a remarkable ability to find novel and increasingly progressive solutions to complex problems. Such systems typically find and adopt a pattern graded in a hierarchical manner, in that sets of subsystems link to higher-order systems, but the pattern is emergent rather than imposed. The principles of holographic organization attempt to create the conditions through which such patterns of order can emerge. Brain (hologram) Metaphor I. Introduction -Brain would be an obvious metaphor for organization particularly if our concern is to improve capacities for organizational intelligence. -Brain has been compared with a holographic system, one of the marvels of laser science -Holography uses a lenseless camera to record information in a way that stores the whole in all the parts -interacting beams of light create an interference pattern that scatters the information being recorded on a photographic plate, known as a hologram, which can then be illuminated to recreate the original information. -one of the interesting features of the hologram is that if it’s broken, any single piece can be used to reconstruct the entire image. -everything is enfolded into everything else. -holography demonstrates in a very concrete way that it is possible to create processes where the whole can be encoded in all the parts, so that each and every part represents the whole. Ii. Brains and organizations as holographic systems -holographic character of the brain is most clearly reflected in the patterns of connectivity through which each nerve cell is connected with hundreds of thousands of others, allowing a system of functioning that is both generalized and specialized. Different regions of the brain seem to specialize in different activities, but the control and execution of specific behaviors is by no means as localized as was once thought. Thus, while we can distinguish between the functions performed by the cortex (the captain or master planner which controls all nonroutine activity, and perhaps memory), the cerebellum (the computer or automatic pilot taking care of routine activity), and the mid-brain (the center of feelings, smell, and emotion), we are obliged to recognize that they are all closely interdependent and capable of acting on behalf of each other when necessary. We also know that right and left brains combine to produce patterns of thought, and that the distinction between the functions of these hemispheres as the domains of creative and analytic capacities is accompanied by more general patterns of connectivity. For example, the creative or analogical right brain is richly joined to the limbic system and the emotions. The principle of connectivity and generalized function is also reflected in the way neurons serve both as communication channels and as a locus of specific activity or memory recall. It is believed that each neuron may be as complex as a small computer and capable of storing vast amounts of information. The pattern of rich connectivity between neurons allows simultaneous processing of information in different parts of the brain, a receptivity to different kinds of information at one and the same time, and an amazing capacity to be aware of what is going on elsewhere. The secret of the brain’s capacities seems to depend more on this connectivity, which is the basis of holographic diffusion, than of differentiation of structure. The brain is composed of repetitive units of the same kind (there may only be three basic types of brain cell), so that we find different functions being sustained by very similar structures. The importance of connectivity in accounting for complexity of functioning is also reinforced by comparisons between human and animal brains. For example, elephants have much larger brains than humans, but they are by no means so richly joined. An interesting aspect of his connectivity rests in the fact it creates a much greater degree of cross-connection and exchange than may be needed at any given time. However, this redundancy is crucial for creating holographic potential and for ensuring flexibility in operation. The redundancy allows the brain to operate in a probabilistic rather than a deterministic manner, allows considerable room to accommodate random error, and creates an excess capacity that allows new activities and functions to develop. In other words, it facilitates the process of self-organization whereby internal structure and functioning can evolve along with changing circumstances. This self-organizing capacity has been demonstrated in numerous ways. For example, when brain damage occurs it is not uncommon for different areas of the brain to take on the functions which have been impaired. The brain has this amazing capacity to organize and reorganize itself to deal with the contingencies it faces. Experiments have shown that the more we engage in a specific activity, e.g. playing tennis, typing, or reading, the more the brain adjusts itself to facilitate the kind of functioning required. The simple idea that “practice makes perfect” is underwritten by a complex capacity for self-organization whereby the brain forges or revises patterns of neuronic activity. For example, experiments where monkeys were trained to use a finger to press a lever thousands of times a day showed that the areas of the brain controlling that finger increased in size and changed in organization. Our awareness leads us to see the brain as a system which, in no small measure, has played an important role in designing itself in the course of evolution. Now, to our basic problem: how can we use these insights about the holographic character of the brain to create organizations that are able to learn and self-organize in the manner of a brain? Our discussion provides many clues. For example, it suggests that by building patterns of rich connectivity between similar parts we can create systems that are both specialized and generalized, and that are capable of reorganizing internal structure and function as they learn to meet the challenges posed by new demands. The holographic principle has a great deal running in its favor. For the capacities of the brain are already distributed throughout modern organizations. All the employees have brains, and computers are in essence simulated brains. In this sense, important aspects of the whole are already embodied in the parts. The development of more holographic, brainlike forms of organization thus rests in the realization of a potential that already exists. III. Facilitating Self-Organization: Principles of Holographic Design Get the whole into the parts. Create connectivity and redundancy. Create simultaneous specialization and generalization. Create a capacity to self-organize. These are things that have to be done to create holographic organization. Our task now is to examine the means. Much can be learned from the way the brain is organized, and much can be learned from cybernetic principles. Four interacting principles (see chart) The principle of redundant function shows a means of building wholes into parts by creating redundancy, connectivity, and simultaneous specialization and generalization. The principle of requisite variety helps to provide practical guidelines for the design of part-whole relations by showing exactly how much of the whole needs to be built into a given part. And the principles of learning to learn and minimum critical specification show how we can enhance capacities for self-organization. Any system with an ability to self-organize must have an element of redundancy: a form of excess capacity which, appropriately designed and used, creates room for maneuver. Without such redundancy, a system has no real capacity to reflect on and question how it is operating, and hence to change its mode of functioning in constructive ways. In other words, it has no capacity for intelligence in the sense of being able to adjust action to take account of changes in the nature of relationships within which the action is set. Australian systems theorist Fred Emery has suggested that there are two methods for designing redundancy into a system. The first involves redundancy of parts, where each part is precisely designed to perform a specific function, special parts being added to the system for the purpose of control and to back up or replace operating parts whenever they fail. This design principle is mechanistic and the result is typically a hierarchical structure where one part is responsible for controlling another. If we look around the organizational world it is easy to see evidence of this kind of redundancy: the supervisor who spends his or her time ensuring that others are working; the maintenance team that “stands by” waiting for problems to arise; the employee idly passing time because there’s no work to do; employee X passing a request to colleague Y “because that’s his job not mine”; the quality controller searching for defects which, under a different system, could much more easily be rectified by those who produced them. Under this design principle the capacity for redesign and change of the system rests with the parts assigned this function; for example, production engineers, planning teams, and systems designers. Such systems are organized and can be reorganized, but they have little capacity to self-organize. The se

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