From Computer to Business Operating Systems
Many years ago Arnold Zuboff wrote a novel (republished into The Mind’s I) which “main character” was a biological brain; but not a normal, compact one:
it had been split more and more times, from two big parts since billions of smaller cells. Of course every single neuron was connected to other ones just like in a whole brain, so its complete functionality was preserved and the result of all interactions could be still considered as a real personality.
In a period of monolithic applications the concept of global distribution was surely treated as a possible but irrational reality, however, even if with
a bit of humour, such a novel does explains something that is currently happening with different characters but the same identical roles and functions. Network society is now so rooted in our life that almost nobody is able to “feel” its daily action; maybe the majority of us are careless, or most likely, according to Gregory Bateson’s words, we’ve begun forgetting the fleeting Cartesian difference between any living mind and the rest of lifeless objects and we’re now considering it all as the result of a “process“.
However, in despite of every philosophical theory, concepts like distribution, emergence and interaction are not simply widespread as appropriate market brands: they are allowing us to live in the way we’d like to live. This is true for almost any natural person whose “connection skill” represents now the result of en extended mind which boundaries have been shifted in a far, unknown territory (always controlled by the science-fiction). And that’s true for companies too,
where the standard, classical organization is making way for a new kind of structure based on lots of network links with hubs and small nodes.
An interesting novelty is also that of Business Operating System (BOS) as clearly described by E. Van Heck and P. Varvest in “Smart Business Networks: How the Network Wins” (Communication of the ACM, 50/6):
the interconnection of companies can thus be compared to computers’ ones as they all may be free to implement their operating strategies according to a common standard behaviour that lets a company keep a personal autonomy and identity nevertheless being able to exploit all the benefits that spring from remaining a part of network.
I don’t think we are reaching a “global human distribution” as in Zuboff’s novel, however I’m always glad to discover that a new kind of collaboration is being rising: not a useful way to solve problems too hard for a single person, but a concrete, brand new attitude of mind fit to face any possible human activity.