Organizations as organisms
We learned a bit about lean production and the Toyota Production System in Operations Management today. While I was listening I was thinking about how much, at its core, it resembled basic Taylorism developed 50 years prior. What were the critical differences/improvements, then, that made this practice so powerful? The main difference I think is the learning mechanism. Actually, the more I thought about it the more the process resembled something biological. The factory was almost like a living cell, the line workers, enzymes, the team leaders, RNA, and the plant managers like the DNA. The entire process could almost be viewed as metabolism. Fascinating.
Of course the first thing I did after class was do a quick google search on the subject of business and biology, but sadly came up with little. There was one book (actually just a collection of essays) from thirteen years ago about some particular management technique that must’ve been popular at the time but nothing concentrating on the similarities between business and biology. Aside from the one chapter in Images of Organization I guess there isn’t much work out there. That’s too bad because I’d be really interested in how management processes mimic cellular processes, the role of catalysts, information, and responses to errors. Life has had a lot of time to solve problems and become an efficient producer; why should we reinvent the ribosome?