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What an octopus can teach you about management


All of Earth’s successful organisms have thrived without analyzing past crises or trying to predict the next one,”writes Rafe Sagarin in HBR, free of “planning exercises,” “predictive frameworks,” or other buzzy human constructions. “Instead,” he says, “they’ve adapted.”

Decentralize like a mollusk

Consider the octopus: Fleet of tentacle and prismatic of color, the cephalopod is a paragon of flat, startup-style organizational structure:

An octopus … doesn’t order each arm to change a certain color when it needs to hide quickly. Rather, individual skin cells across its body sense and respond to change and give the octopus a collective camouflage.

If we take managers to be the brains of the octopus—a frightening proposition—employees, especially those with a customer touch point, are the spectacular, tentacular, color-shifting cells—a credo of the connected company. When you move with your feelers (or suckers, as is the case with eight-arms over there), you can move much quicker than your centralized competitors: Wikipedia over Brittanica, Google Flu Trends over the CDC.

Get more management tips from nature here.


(via wildcat2030)

  • 14 March 2013
  • 153