• ValueWeb Communities • VaueWeb Mechanics
• Building ValueWebs - Part 1 of 2 •

Building ValueWebs

Creating the 21st Century Organization


ValueWeb and Recursions



The ValueWeb Model cannot be understood and actualized without understanding recursion.

(More coming)






The present way of organizations is based on UpSideDown Economics. This is leading to the systematic destruction of our planet. Will ValueWeb architecture address this? It can. Webs must be designed as a system. They have - if constructed properly - inherent complexity, scale, diversity and balance. They follow the principles of ecology. They self-organize.




Failing this, they become mere mechanical supply chains and networks. This will not do. A mere engine runs down. It requires high-overhead maintenance. A living System self-repairs and grows. Engines are important as a subset of a living system - they cannot be the system.


Overwhelmingly, 20th Century, and still 21st Century, organizations are engines based on the Industrial Paradigm. Competition and the drive for customer and shareholder value at the cost of everything else - while good for one level of the system - actually is reinforcing old, now destructive models and habits. As long as the concept of customer service reins, as long as “ownership” is merely the message of maximum return, this will be the case and the system-as-a-whole will be put at greater and greater risk.


Whenever you experience yourself constantly feeding your organization, know that you are slave to an nonviable system. This is necessary in the nascent stage - in start up. It is killing in a “mature” organization of global scale.


The present-in-place economic paradigm is one of fundamental sacristy. This leads to the improper application of the competition principle which leads to sub-optimization, destruction of local ecologys, inhuman acts and... war. War is Nature’s court of last resort - when all else fails, blow it up. Don’t be fooled by the present ‘peace.’ Read the statistics. The body count is still very high even through the number of “set piece” confrontations are low. Business, itself, is increasingly being conducted utilizing tools once reserved for nation-states in conflict. As yourself if you think this trend is sustainable. Ask yourself if you believe that it is moral.


This is not an attack on the principle of economic freedom and the theory of Capitalism. It is a criticism of how we have allowed structure to determine the scope and style of our social/economic practice. It is a criticism of how we have employed a partially constructed free-enterprise system to do some really stupid and bad things. Freedom requires greater awareness and sometime constraint. Something does not have to be done just because it is possible to do it.


We are missing many critical feedback loops in a system that is far too simple for the complexity inherent in a global economy. “Can I afford it” cannot be the only major feedback driver if we are to have stability. If consequences to the larger system and longer-term outcomes are not made visible at the level of individual buy-or-not decisions, then the power of the market will become the biggest destructive force in the world.


In day-to-day economic terms, our current model creates incredible waste and tends to drive the quality of life downward. We become economic units rather than humans who employ economic means to achieve some values.


Have you wondered, in an economy of extraordinary options and tooling and incredible wealth-building, that you life is not getting that much better? Are you employing the economy or does it own you?


These are architectural issues. Structure wins. We should blame people less and design better. If you place people in a structure/process that is fundamentally competitive in a game that is fundamentally biased and stacked in favor of some of the players, you will get what you deserve. If you stay in that game you are likely to end up a “victim” of evolution. If you stay in that game - thinking you can win and get out - you will get, ultimately, what you deserve. This sounds harsh. I am not being harsh. “Nature does not care.” Nature is nature. If the engineer in me is too critical and bent on improving this issue, then attention too it will just help us all do it better. However, if my premise - one that I have been working for over 25 years now - IS (more-or-less) “true,” then failure to restructure our organizations can be catastrophic. I believe that my premise is true and that our time is short. Organizations such as we now employ tend to be change-resistant and extremely good at “protecting” themselves. This kind of organization tends toward catastrophic failure. The Soviet Union is an example. It’s fall surprised a great number of people. The recent (2001-2002) failures of major corporations may just be a cycle - or, it may be the early warning (not too early!) of systemic failure. True Capitalism is built on “creative failure” as a feature. However, if the scale of this gets out of hand the resulting problems can overwhelm a system even as robust as our present economy.

The Nation State, of course shares this vulnerability.


The old economic/organizational model cannot escape this criticism. Despite all the political rhetoric and intellectual apologists, we are building a world of massive unintended and destructive consequences.




...End of the Nation-State



The Nation-State, as we know it, has a very short shelf life. In its currant form, it is about to become an artifact of history. The Nation State will be a player for some time - however, it will be - at best - a player among many institutions that have equal power to compete within and influence the future shape of global society. Nations as Brand, will most likely be around for a long time. Nations as EXPERIENCE will be there. When we speak of FRANCE do we mean the government or the culture?


The passing of the Nation-State as principle organizer of societies will leave a powerful, and dangerous, vacuum in the architecture of organizations that make up the Human Enterprise. How this is filled will be critical. It is not a slam dunk that the best solution will emerge in the short term.


Civilizations have fallen before. We forget this. We assume that we are wiser and more sophisticated than anything that came before. We assume our knowledge and tools will save us. This can be a paper thin promise in a number of likely consequences.


I am an optimist. I believe we have gathered and created most of what we need. It is a matter of assembly and design. The question is if we will address the issues we need to, on the scale we need to in the time frame we need to.


The ValueWeb structure/process, although it must grow organically, is the only Model I know of that can weave the many existing parts together into something fundamentally new - and potentially do it in time.



...You As A Hunter-Gatherer



My working model of the basic Human Enterprise, since the mid 70s, is that we have traveled full circle back to a new form of hunter-gatherer process/organization social architecture.


In this cycle, we hunt and gather knowledge and tools, live and work in local and global affinity tribes (which we choose to be in not just happen to born into), we form organizations and processes - ValueWebs with are both our personal and work organization and social ecology - to create and ship product, learn and evaluate - then, restructure our enterprises and do it again. This is, essentially, an ad-hoc process and fundamentally as different a work process than the agrarian and industrial models were compared to tribalism. Consequently new kinds of relationships, groups, and organizations are emerging than we are not used to thinking about and putting to proper use. Because, on the surface (and certainly still legally), organizational structure and mechanisms do not “look” much different than before, we get trapped in an old model and it’s various substructures. We think we are driving one kind of organization when in fact we are in an entirely different vehicle. No wonder we go off the road so often. No wonder we do not realize that now we do not even need a road.


We often speak, as example, as working for an organization - “I work for IBM.” Rather than asking “which organizations work for you?” Or, “which organizations do you employ in your work?” Or, how do these entities AUGMENT your work?


Increasingly, organizations are formed and reformed in order to specifically develop a particular opportunity. Toffler, in “Future Shock,” talked (in narrower terms) about this kind of enterprise structure in 1971. The creation and use of power will be quite different as this societal architecture evolves. The evolution process will be “punctuated,” thus, likely to be overestimated in the short and underestimated in the medium term.


Although this global society is still “coming” for most members of humanity, it is the present reality for educated, affluent “knowledge workers” as defined by Drucker in the 1960s: “The Age of Discontinuity,” “The Effective Executive” and other works.


Of course, some of Humanity are still hunter-gatherers in the traditional sense of the word - they may have surprising gifts to bring to this new emergent life-work modality. We may have something to learn from how they see time and community as only a couple of examples.


If this hunter-gatherer model is literally true or not, it makes a useful test for thinking about and evaluating competing organizational theories and practices. It suggests an ad-hoc-ness and organizational mobility that is likely to be a major experience for an ever increasing number of people. It is critical that whatever replaces present organizations both deal with this reality and transform many important, enduring human patterns into a viable “new” solution.

(more coming)



...from November 1977 Renascence Reports



I first addressed the issues of organizational structure and Toffler’s concept of ad-hocracy in the November 1977 Renascence Reports Vol. 1 No. 5 p3. Richard Georing was editor of this newsletter. The germ of the ValueWeb which was not to emerge until 1985, can be seen - in retrospect - in this writing.

The intent of the piece was to shift the framework, within which human organizations were being discussed, by introducing cybernetic and systems theory terms as a means to introduce new models and modes of thought. We humans grow up in organizations. These are rarely thought of as the result of a design process. It becomes a “fish-in-water” experience. Human organizations, by default, are treated as if they are an act of Nature rather than a human created artifact. There is much “re-organization” activity yet this is often just shifting around the pieces of the same organizational design. Gail calls this “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Today (as of this editing in 2012) disruptive technologies are rapidly changing almost all organization’s process architecture. Yet, the old paradigm remains remarkably solid and in place with the emphasis on people, behaviors, motives, mistakes and brilliant insights - all important - with little awareness of the hidden impact, on all of it, which is the consequence of all organization’s deep structure. This neglect is a major cause of poor analysis, fragmented understanding and “too little, too late actions leading to inadequate results. Change is overwhelming the major systems - which we rarely look at - of our society. We blame politicians, business leaders, schools, ourselves and anyone who sticks his head up while talking about our major institutions and social covenants as if they were the same as the were fifty years ago.



Matt Taylor
Borges NavCenter
June 22, 1999


SolutionBox voice of this document:


• ValueWeb Communities • VaueWeb Mechanics
• Building ValueWebs - Part 1 of 2 •

posted June 22, 1999

revised August 18, 2012
• 19990622.184885.mt • 19991204.531142.mt •
• 20001110.126581.mt • 20010328.768884.mt •
• 20010621.198734.mt • 20120818.221981.mt •

 note: this document is about 42% finished

Copyright© Matt Taylor 1977, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2012

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