Love and Power
A blog entry by Seth Godin on Independence and Subjugation reflects on the increased possibilities offered by fission rather than fusion (in an organisational sense, not a nuclear one). He observes:
Tribal management often involves power struggles. One thing that's been shown again and again--subjugating another tribe, taking it over--it almost never works. It can take hundreds of years before the two tribes get into sync, if ever. On the other hand, granting independence to a rising tribe, letting them go--this is harder to swallow but it generally leads to a quick and beneficial relationship between the two new groups.
A reminder of bees. They swarm successfully as a reproduction strategy, but they never (at least not any well-known species, but the bongo bongo rule may apply) attempt to conquer and absorb colonies of their own species. Of course, other animals certainly do expand by conquering other tribes of their own species, but the most common form of reproduction involves splitting off from the parent in some form. In business, however, the conventional model is the other way round.
Clearly, there have been waves of management buy-outs and some organisations regularly dispose of divisions or units that don't fit the overall strategy, but the tendency is usually to go for growth through acquisition. How much more interesting if businesses developed a pro-swarming strategy. The Chief Swarming Officer (CSO) could foster teams, innovations, products and brands with the specific intention of helping them to 'spin off'.
It would undermine Dumézil's theory about power being exercised either by the fearsome magician-emperor (who "operates by capture, bonds, knots and nets" and is a one-eyed man using signs and symbols) or by the jurist-priest-king (who "proceeds by treaties, pacts and contracts" and is a one-armed man using tools and mechanisms). I don't think the CSO fits either of these models.
And that may be because swarming involves letting go rather than acquiring; it's the antithesis of the exercise of power which we might dare to call the exercise of love (hence the title of this entry, 'More from love than power', a suggestion given by Sandra Reeve to a colleague exploring his own movement habits. She could have said it to any of us.)
On bongo-bongoism, Inside Project Red Stripe says:
I can’t find an organisation that has employed a ‘Head of Good’ yet, but there almost certainly is one. (Anthropologists have a term for this, coined by Mary Douglas in Natural Symbols. It’s ‘bongo-bongoism’ and describes the practice of countering any generalisation – ‘eating your grandchildren alive is a universal taboo’, for example – with an exception located at some time in the past in a little known tribe.)