ruminations about architecture and design

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

this is my only line

Something that's been bouncing around in my head for a while about the nature of human organizations. People in business and politics often talk about the "public sector" and the "private sector" as if this division were a clear thing. As far as I know, most companies use public infrastructure, which was often built by private companies, with money borrowed by public entities, which was lent to private investors, who would seek to have political influence, and so on, and so on. I think this division is mostly false and muddy enough to be a distraction from what I regard to be a more potent definition of organized systems.

I propose two types of firms: Those that accomplish a defined task, and those that do not. By this rule, many popular dysfunctional corporations and governments are getting things done. A business that is being liquidated, or a dictator who is being strung up are the only clear examples of complete mis-management and failure in the face of countervailing forces.

A proper analysis of organizations becomes an effort to predict whether or not failure is just around the corner or if things will continue creaking along for a while longer. The organization is something that can do good things if small parts are made to work better. Searching for the "perfect" business model or right group of leaders becomes secondary to a piecemeal approach to improvements.

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