Saturday, February 20, 2010


About a week and a half ago, I was having a conversation with the WSM. We were discussing Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, and the WSM came up with something truly interesting. This is what he said:

I have this theory too: that organisations are pre-dominantly collectives of producers and police.

People get together to form organisations for the purpose of pooling, redistributing and re-purposing (production/manufacturing) resources efficiently... anything from governments, schools, corporations, to the religious, etc.

As organisations get larger, processes (laws/rules) are put into place to remove ambiguity and create fairer redistribution (or treatment of its members). But as exceptions to policies (naturally) occur, further alteration or amendment of processes is required to cater for those exceptions. However, processes and policy exceptions (e.g. amendments + codification of laws) require policing.

An organisation (organism) then reaches a kind of tipping point when there are more police than producers, and revolution ensues. (Because police/politicians/policiers(?) only improve processes but can't affect production once you go past some point of marginal utility/economy of scale.)

At this point the matrix resets itself.

The WSM is a very profound person at times. Here he has managed to encapsulate the behaviour of a lot of organisations all at once. I told him I would quote him as an unpublished source, and he very kindly assented.

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