Let’s be alive

It’s often a complicated relationship with people we trust most in the world, no matter who they are; a spouse, sibling, parent or friend. It’s easier to trust people that care about us though. Those relationships have a high communication bandwidth as there is little need to worry about what you say — it’s easy to share your thoughts and feelings.

If relationships between two people that have great care of one another are complicated, what happens when two people come together that haven’t had time to build up intimacy? The communication bandwidth is understandably low. It takes time for people to open up, and that restriction in communication can often cause more complications — they know less about each other and therefore have more room for misinterpretation.

Now, let’s move from a complicated relationship of two people that have a single communication channel between them to groups of people. The amount of communication channels between all the people in a group is n(n-1)/2, that’s 45 channels for a group of 10, 4,950 channels for a group of 100 and a whopping 124,750 channels for a group of 500. Not only are the relationships complicated, as the group increases in size, it’s complexity of relationships is exponential.

To simplify this, most groups start to evolve a hierarchy once they reach a certain size to reduce the number of active communication channels between the members. This reduction means communication is dormant between lots of members of the group. They are relying on someone else they trust to represent their views, thoughts, feelings and act in their interest.

When that group is stable, there is plenty of time for those relationships to be nurtured and the communication bandwidth increase over time. In a dynamic expanding business however, the group’s size is ever increasing and therefore the hierarchy tends to evolve to keep up. Again, as the business focus changes in its pursuit of profit, it’s common to see adjustments in its internal structure in an attempt to align to the new purpose.

The risk of changing the internals is that individuals within the group may find their primary communication pathway severed. Who is now listening to their needs? Who is acting in their interest? Who can they trust? Long dormant communication channels are hard to resurrect quickly. Without being heard it’s easy for individuals to feel rejected from the group.

Organisations can be analogous to organisms. From a small group of embryonic stem cells to well functioning specialist organs that work together in a complex way. Those organs use a nervous system or circulatory system to communicate with each other via electrical impulses or chemicals, working together to sustain life. If a vital organ is cut off due to the nervous system being severed or the circulatory system being blocked, then it may become impossible for life to continue to exist. The result is just meat, and offal.

Let’s not be raw materials for the sausage factory. It takes time to revive those dormant communication channels when changing internal state.
Let’s be alive.