Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cellphones and Hierarchies .

Cellphones and Hierarchies .
Andre Willers
9 May 2009

Synopsis :
Cellphones and emails decreases the effectiveness of hierarchical organizations .

Discussion :
This seems counter-intuitive , but is immediately clear from Goldratt's Theory of Constraints .

High-level argument :
(See Appendix A for a Low Level Argument)

The very nature of an Hierarchy means that there are few people that can say Yes , but many that can say No .
By making communication faster and more efficient via cellphones or emails , the efficiency of the "No" segment is enhanced , but the efficiency of the "Yes" segment has a ceiling because of the smaller number of decision-makers .
Decisions accumulate at the choke-points of "Yes" deciders . Things slow down .
The whole system becomes less efficient , especially when measured from a time-viewpoint .

The Judicial System is very vulnerable to this effect . The number of decision-makers (magistrates , judges) is severely limited because of sad historical experience when a more ad-hoc approach was tried . This inevitably forces a hierarchy .
But it is also seen in projects (especially IT projects) where the organization cannot seem to let go of the hierarchical straight-jacket .

The result is that things slow down , are continually postponed , and generally stretch out on the time-axis .
In the meantime circumstances change . Often , by the time the original problem is settled , it has become irrelevant and the whole expensive project is cancelled . This happens often in IT .
The biggest cost-item is missed-opportunity costs . Many companies have gone bankrupt or suffered significant losses in market-share because of this .

Unfortunately , we cannot afford such a luxury in the Criminal Justice System or Service delivery in South Africa .

Companies can , and are , re-engineering themselves . The original WalMart organization was flat and non-hierarchical , preventing the fatal inventory-buildup of "No" decisions at the hierarchical nodes by empowering lower levels , or abolishing levels altogether . The Chinese are using this model . It is the classical Entrepreneur-Owner model .
Hence the term "Facebookism" to describe this model (see previous posts)
These self-organize to growth rates between 7% and 18% .

The Judicial Systems .
There is about 10 000 years of precedent , history , trial-and-error behind the present systems .
There are two main ones :

1.Trial-by-Combat .
(Ancient Egyptian , Middle-East , Roman , Dutch , Roman-Dutch , English , American)
This favours the Big Battalions . Champions (lawyers) are appointed and the judge is a referee .
Appeals can last a long time .

2.Trial-by-Examination .
(Chinese , Sharia , Early Christian , Code Napoleon) . Usually found post-revolution .
The judge examines and enquires , then makes a determination . Appeals are limited .

A fairer system . It is faster , the main requirement for ordinary people . An adverse determination can be recovered , but not if it drags on for years and years , with ever-escalating costs .
This is one of the main reasons Islam is gaining converts so fast . Faster justice . Usually fairer too at grassroots level .

Or China , for that matter . I have not seen any studies on the penetration of Chinese legal systems , but I think that many people prefer this to the western "Stomp-them and take no prisoners" approach .

The Code Napoleon was the most subversive product of the French Revolution .
The concept of legal fairness .
It destabilized Europe and is still destabilizing large parts of the world from the Roman-Dutch perspective .
Ever wondered why the French civilization was so appealing ? Even to the Vietnamese , who had seen off China and Japan .

There is an interesting little conflict shaping up between the Roman-Dutch legal system and the Code Napoleon in the EU . (Remember , the Dutch did not de-civilize or depopulate with the collapse of the Western Roman empire . This included their banking and legal systems.)

Fairness .
This keeps on popping up . As to be expected , since it is hard-wired in at a very deep level . One can argue that it can be experimentally proven at any level where learned helplessness has been proven . Since unfairness (randomness of rewards and punishments) forms the heart of learned-helplessness conditioning . Because of feedback neural networks .
And this has been proven down to cockroach level . If you treat a cockroach unfairly , it will retaliate even to its detriment . This has been experimentally proven with dogs , chimps , maybe cockroaches (I don't know) .
Definitely with humans .

The Roman-Dutch Legal System is fair only to corporates . With deep pockets and long memories . It evolved that way (Remember "Roman woman will not cook or grind corn." ? That far back . They really did a number on everybody else .

It is instructive to compare Early Christian and Sharia laws . They were mirror images initially . Even the women's clothes (nun's habits compared to chadors) were similar . Yet they diverged . Why ?:

The Black Death and Renaissance are usually taken as the reasons . But the only really major difference were the Low Lands of Western Europe , specifically the Dutch . This was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church . They saw them as pagans , direct descendants of the Romans .
Hence Spain's attacks on the Dutch . It was not about religion , or national hegemonies , or even dynasties . Two Legal Meme-Systems battled it out . The Dutch won .
So now you have to pay MicroSoft .
(See Niall Ferguson on "The Great Merger" between England and the Netherlands . )

So why did this not happen in China ?
See "Rome vs China"
The Chinese did not evolve the concept of the Law above even the rulers . "The Mandate of Heaven" is by definition , arbitrary . So , in the usual human fractal fashion , it devolved down to arbitrary magistrarial examinations and determinations .

A strong argument against re-incarnation .
Imagine the message-queue Caesar or Ghenghis would face on his cell-phone and email .

Andre .

Appendix A
A low-level argument a-la-Goldratt .

Imagine a factory floor with red machines that manufacture red widgets , and blue machines that uses the input of red widgets to manufacture blue widgets . The blue widgets are the output of the system .

The Red machines and widgets represent the "No" segments , the Blue widgets the output .

Now increase the efficiency of the red machines till the output of their red widgets overwhelms the inputs of the Blue machines.
The result is a build-up of inventory of red widgets in front of the blue machines .

In a bureaucracy or project this inventory build-up represents delays . Postponements . Slowdowns .

The results can be exactly calculated using Goldratt's Theory of Constraints .

This was the major reason for the demise of Conglomerates . (Remember them ?)

But the good news does not seem to have percolated down . Large organization and Governments keep on acting like Conglomerates , while trying to become more efficient by making parts of them more efficient .

The result is predictable .


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