"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The 21st Century Organization: Designed from the Human Body

“It is shameful for man to rest in ignorance of the structure of his own body, especially when the knowledge of it mainly conduces to his welfare, and directs his application of his own powers.” Is what German humanist Philip Schwatzerd noted on human anatomy.
Indeed our human bodies are marvelously engineered complex systems, equipped with the essentials for prosperity. What if this could be applied to other systems? The following three categories look at basic elements of the human design and examine how they can provide ideas for the 21st century organization.

Stability, Mobility and Agility

The human arms and legs evolved to empower us with the ability of creation and mobility. Containing some of the “densest areas of nerve endings on the human body” permitting the “finest motor skills,” our hands are the “chief organs for physically manipulating the environment,” and have been the basis for the construction of our civilization (Wikipedia, 2007). Our four limbs are tuned with intuitive preciseness and make anything we can imagine. Our feet allow us to roam the land and waters.
Like so, the organization needs the production power of human hands, with the ability to change and effectively produce end results with precision and speed. Implementations such a higher power in the implantation of collective decisions can allow the organizational radical and flexible movement without the restraint of high-leveled bureaucracy. This will help increase the organizations reaction time in the high-speed society where legislations and consumer demands are at constant change. In addition to this, the need for strength of an organization to withstand dramatic social, political, and economic fluctuations is comparable to human being’s abilities of balance and stability.

Immunity, Prosperity and Sustainability

As the body’s self defense again foreign agents, our bodies have a highly developed immune system with a vast defense structure that “incorporates specificity, inducibility and adaptation” to protect the human body as a whole. These “collections of mechanisms within [the body] protects against infection by identifying and killing” harmful foreign organisms (Wikipedia, 2007).
The future organizations will need an elaborate and integrated network of its own defense mechanisms in the shape of intelligent management strategies and lawyers to fend off legal attacks, while securing information protection teams and monitoring in place for IT intrusions and hacking.
However rarely, autoimmunity and self attacks do occur within the human body. Organizations must be constantly aware that their strong system build for defense does not work to harm themselves in forms of corporate espionage and sabotage, as the organizations’ greatest strengths could become their crippling blow.
As for the human population in society, while our health systems have improved immensely throughout history, each generation is living longer and bringing more lives to the world. Our society has come to a point where we have realized that our population growth rate has raised to an unsustainable amount. Organizations of the 21st century must be designed around this dilemma between prosperity and sustainability. How fast should growth be to keep the organization running? How slow should growth be to maintain its long term sustainability? Which type of growth is more important? There comes a necessity to discover the balance between these two needs.

Intelligence, Interconnectivity and Integrity

As the most complex system of the human body, the brain controls virtually all functions of the human body including the more complex mental activities of learning, intelligent thinking and upholding moral standards. Equipped with this central processing unit, are also able to take in and analyze information gathered of the environment surrounding us with our sensory systems, of which eyesight and hearing can be named as two of the most important. Our visual system allows us to “assimilate information from the environment to help guide our actions,” facilitating the recognition of objects and obstacles while our auditory system provides the ability to receive environmental and communicational information. Linking all of these individual components of our entire complex is the vast interconnection of neurons, providing infrastructure for the massive volume of communication transmitted during all of these processes. It effectively uses a combination of the speed of electronic transmissions and chemical reactions. In the 21st century, organizations should be equipped with the flexibility of human brains for continuous learning and adaptation within the constantly changing global environment. An attentive management system promoting inter-human communication with well established member feedback system will allow for a high-level of organizational thinking in accumulation of intellectual capital and innovative solutions for maintaining holistic organizational growth.
Facial expressions of humans “convey the emotional state of the individual to observers,” creating method of non verbal communication and are “a primary means of conveying social information” (Givens, 1998) for us. To an organization, their face is their façade towards society, the government, and the world. As frequent as we purposely create false expressions to mask our emotions, many organizations of today conduct the same hiding of their true actions under faux façades of inspirational mottos, inducing wide public distrust in the organizational world. Maintaining honesty in their operations and stances towards the society is a key in the 21st century. A genuine “facial expression”, and to have a heart towards the mass will aid the reconstruction of social-organizational relations and trust.

Designed from these attributes of the human body, the fluid elements of stability, mobility, and agility, the internal systems of immunity, prosperity, and sustainability, and the management of intelligence, interconnectivity, and integrity will form the DNA of the 21st century organization.


Toga, Arthur W.; B.S., M.S., Ph.D. (2006). Brain (html). MSN Encarta. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.

Philips, Helen (2006). Instant Expert – The Human Brain. New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd. Retrieved on 2006-12-22.

Hand. (2007). In Wikipedia [Web]. Wikipedia Foundation. Retrieved August 1, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand

Immune System. (2007). In Wikipedia [Web]. Wikipedia Foundation. Retrieved August 1, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immune_system

Givens, D. B. (1998). Facial Expression. Retrieved August 1, 2007, Web site: http://members.aol.com/nonverbal3/facialx.htm

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