The Astrophysics of Organizations

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

Sometimes I like to free my mind and look at organizations, their culture and how they approach strategic initiatives through the lens of other disciplines just to explore whether there are useful metaphors to be found.

For instance, ever consider how astrophysics can provide insights into understanding organizations better? Are there lessons hiding in the rules, laws and principles of astrophysics that can be applied to the way organizations function?

The process I use is simple. First, take a concept and its basic definition and adapt that definition to apply to an organization. Next, through observation and a pinch of critical thinking, find examples and situations where the concept applies. Finally, determine if the application of the concept can add value to your ability to spot issues, avoid failure and/or enhance success.

With that in mind, let’s explore and have a little fun with a few astrophysics concepts…

Organization Black Holes
In astronomical terms, a black hole is an area in space where the gravitational pull is so strong that not even light can escape. An organizational black hole is a process, initiative or bureaucracy that sucks the resources out of the organization without producing any real value in return.

A project that is continually running over budget—or continually being extended and chewing through project managers&…

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"I don't like work - no man does - but I like what is in the work - the chance to find yourself."

- Joseph Conrad