Our ability to solve problems

This blog post will elaborate on our ability to solve problems, to give some more understanding on why the principles for our organisations’ way of working are deeply connected to our evolutionary prerequisites as a specie, which has been discussed in this series of blog posts about human science.

We humans have solved problems as long as we have been a specie. In the beginning the problem solving were concentrated only on survival; find a safe place to sleep, find food safely, learn what food was not poisoned, learn what animals was dangerous, keep the warmth etc.

When our ancestors grew in number, they organised themselves in flat hierarchies; families, tribes, etc., in a way that suited our specie’s evolutionary prerequisites. By having tribes, other problems could be solved, that could not by a family, like protection to big dangerous animals like tigers, to overthrow big animals like mammoths, big walls around the setting for protection to other tribes, ambulating night guards etc.

With more people our ancestors need to structure the work properly, and use different teams to get the food, water, do the crops, collect nuts, berries, fishing, etc., by choosing the right members to the teams from the different families, for survival of the collective. Somewhere on our path, we somewhere also started to use guilds, for perfecting the different competences, the Body of Knowledge per discipline.

We also learnt how to structure houses and cities, which we call architecture. The introduction of architecture can be seen as more recent, even though it is also about structure, and lately we have started to make products, and the products need an architecture with subsystems as well.
Structure as hierarchies and architectures are our way to divide complex problems into ones we can handle more easily.

All together this means that if we look on our ability to solve problems, as a specie, our prerequisites have been unchanged for a very long time. There is very little difference. We maybe solve other problems, but our evolutionary ability is the same.

We introduced projects in the 1950s, due to the increased complexity of the products, which needed work done of all silos that was hard to coordinate with the silo structure. But the product also needed to have some responsible, since no silo ever have the full responsibility, and cannot per se, depending on for example the KPI setting per silo.

Human science, with the magic numbers 5 (Miller’s magical number seven), 15 and 150, Chinese whispers, Conway’s law etc., shows that our way of organise today in hierarchies is no coincidence. And it is no coincidence either that we will have problems in our organisations, if we are trying to set these evolutionary prerequisites or constraints aside. And when we are setting them aside, it means side effects, that we many times cannot foreseen or explain. That is the chains of symptoms, which means tremendous difficulties, and many times a total fail for some organisations, lacking speed, flexibility and the ability to solve complex problems to survive in today’s market.

“Humans that solve problems” is exactly the same as our system start definition “People that interact to solve activities with interdependencies” that was brought up in the Blog Introduction blog post. This means that we can change the need from the market to be “Solve complex problems, fast and flexible”, which will not change the principles one single bit. The principles have the same validity for our organisations as for our ancestors keeping themselves alive. Moving the boundaries that our ancestors had between themselves and the nature, to the boundaries between our organisation and the market, does not change our evolutionary prerequisites as a specie for solving problems. It is still all about solving problems, meaning that the principles to a big extent are evolutionary principles, the what for being able to solve problems. In short it can be summarized to:

In order to survive in nature, the evolution has given us prerequisites for problem-solving, and violation or negligence of our evolutionary prerequisites will inevitably result in failure.

The conclusion of this is also that, when we are having problems in our organisations, we have indirectly too many times tried to be cleverer then nature. And the statement in the Blog Introduction blog post, “Don’t try to fight your system. You will lose. Every time.”, can now slightly be changed by adding our evolutionary prerequisites:

Don’t try to fight nature. You will lose. Every time.

Next “chapter” according to the reading proposal tree is the blog post about our finalised set of principles.

C u soon again.

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