Information Flow & Hierarchies LO11655
Sat, 4 Jan 1997 19:48:48 -0500

[Linked to LO11590 by your host...]

I changed the title of the thread because the topic of inquiry is the
nature of a hiearchy.

I think Mike McMaster has a fairly solid position, backed up by more than
a few observations from the natural world. It seems to me that everywhere
we turn, be it biology, ecology, computer science, or organizational
design we find hierarchies. They are so common, in fact, that I can't help
but feel they must constitute a "natural form of organization."

At the same time I don't see why a hierarchical structure should dictate
how information flows through an organization. The hierarchy brings a
sense of order to the organization. But information can flow in any
direction, from any node to any node, without the permission of those in
the hierarchy. In fact each new peice of information introduced into an
organization may take an completely different route than all other peices
of information. Information flow is really controled by how those who
intitially receive information interpret it, and decide who else should
see it.

Given enough iterations of this type of decision and pretty soon you'd
have a hierarchy showing how the information flowed through the
organization. Granted it may have nothing to do with the formal structure,
but it would still be represented hierarchically -- something like a
Binary Tree, for those who program. To that extend, new hierarchies are
being created, collapsed, and reconstructed everyday within almost every
reasonably sized organization.


Benjamin B. Compton

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>