business Organisation Philosophy

Organisational Competencies

Context: Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?

The brilliant systems (i.e. organisational, operational) theorist Russ Ackoff once framed an uncannily similar issue along the lines that our organisational systems are in general exquisitely well-structured to continue producing precisely the wrong kind of thing.

We might constructively decompose the problem into one not dissimilar to the bugbear of bias in machine learning models. The retrospective data the systems are trained and validated through inevitably and subtly (or not-so-subtly) shapes the information-processing products and implicit biases or axiomatic assumptions of those systems regarding diversity and inclusion. This is an interesting comparison but suffers from being a little too obvious, also in retrospect.

Problems of organisational competency have deep roots in logic and an endemic orientation of non-trivially complex systems towards autonomous self-propagation. We would do well to ask what, exactly, it is that compels sustainable continuity in socioeconomic ecosystems and what it is in complex organisational systems that, beyond willfully unwise planning or decision-making, seems to positively obligate the presence of operational dissonance and a functional turbulence of manifest incompetency.

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