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A Biological Look at Business

The role of marginally advantageous traits in organizational learning breakthroughs

One form of sudden, opportunistic adaptation has been identified by Danny Hillis in evolutionary computer models run on his Connection Machine. Among the jostling competitive populations of his model, he'll find that one suddenly predominates. His analysis shows that the mutation of a single trait that precedes the sudden success doesn't really explain it. What he finds is that the population has been accumulating a package of marginally advantageous traits whose combination with the new trait suddenly confers the huge advantage. In effect, the population keeps the product of even failed experiments.

Adaptivity in Institutions A Biological Look at Business Brand, Stewart. Global Business Network: Scenario Book, 1989, p.10.

Business as Community

To be seen as successful, businesses in the future will have to function as much more than just a source of jobs. The successful businesses will be those that become valued, long-term contributors to all aspects of community well-being. In addition, with a growing desire for community in times ahead and more people choosing not to have families or to spend a greater proportion of time outside the home, we should find a growing trend toward opportunities for community within the workplace -- company lounges and recreation facilities where everyone can meet on a equal footing, office sports teams, outings and shared personal and professional growth experiences.

The Creative Imperative, by Charles M. Johnston
Celestial Arts, 1986
p. 373

"Corporations Change Their Spots"

"Last year's July-August edition of the Harvard Business Review contained five Taoist parables on leadership. The stories advised our champions of industry and commerce that "as it is not fire but water that envelops all and is the well of life, so it is not mighty and authoritative leaders but rulers with humbleness and deep-reaching inner strength who capture the people's hearts and are springs of prosperity to their states."

"This is just one example of what appears to be a sudden change of heart on the part of corporate leadership. It used to be that if a senior executive was asked what his primary task was, he would respond with a euphemism for "making a profit," such as "building maximum value for shareholders." Now we have Bill O'Brien, CEO for Hanover Insurance, saying his primary role is "providing the enabling conditions for people to lead the most enriching lives they can." Mr. O'Brien was one of the heroes of the best-selling The Fifth Disciple, by Peter Senge of MIT's Sloan School of Management."

Excerpt from Whole Earth, Winter 1993, "Corporations Change Their Spots", by Jeffrey Kaplan, P. 28

The Quality of Mind Links

The interpersonal link between minds,
the quality of this link, its collective nature,
its capacity to stimulate the associated minds,
play a role more important in
the competitivity of enterprises
than the sum of each mind's individual value.

Georges-Yves Kervern, C.E.O. of Aluminium Péchiney, France

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