Thinking of our organisations as rivers or oceans

We treat organisations as fixed as if they cannot evolve, in a way as if they were dead. But they are living systems, and like organisms in water, they are more likely to stagnate in a pond than in a river, and a lake will be different to a sea where you have different rivers feeding it but with greater stability than a sea or ocean which are constantly moving with strong currents as well as boats and animals travelling through them.

We may want our organisations to be more like oceans, all expansive like empires without any strong identity of fast moving like waterfalls to accelerate activity, or more serene like lakes and integrated to other organisations and their supply chains, or like animals specifically adapted to their environment. This visual that Laura from Auralab designed shows how it can easier to design using imagery of nature to navigate organisations than fixed objects or hierarchies.

What can you do? Don’t get lost in the cobweb of systems, come out of them and look at something very different (i.e. , look at ponds to see how organisations can better evolve as ecosystems, see how making food can help improve how you prototype).

  • Look at the nature of the relationships of your organisations
  • Explore cultural web analysis
  • Carry out to identify the most effective ways to drive change




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese

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Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese

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