Google hasn't got many references to the idea of the organisation homunculus. No wonder really.
'What is it?', you may ask.
Here on the right is an ordinary sensory homunculus. You've probably seen it before.
It shows what a man would look like if his appearance were proportional to the area allotted by the somatosensory cortex to his various body parts.
A similar representation of an organisation could be interesting if it showed, for example, the amount of contact each part of the organisation had with external customers; or the proportion of new product ideas generated by each department or division. But, of course, the idea doesn't work well because we don't have a way of representing the organisation that is anything like as interesting as the human body. There's the organogram, which is interesting in terms of the underlying assumptions and prejudices that affect the way we draw it. But an organogram is not sexy in any sense. Not in the way the human body is. How could we represent the organisations that we work in, so that the resulting image was intrinsically interesting?
Let's move on to the homunculus as ouroboros (the snake that eats its own tail), which, of course, organisations often do. And the spermists, about whom Wikipedia says:
"The term homunculus was later used in the discussion of conception and birth. In 1694, Nicolas Hartsoeker discovered "animalcules" in the sperm of humans and other animals. Some claimed that the sperm was in fact a "little man" (homunculus) that was placed inside a woman for growth into a child; these later became known as the spermists. This seemed to neatly explain many of the mysteries of conception (for instance, why it takes two). However it was later pointed out that if the sperm was a homunculus, identical in all but size to an adult, then the homunculus may have sperm of its own. This led to a reductio ad absurdum, with a chain of homunculi "all the way down." This was not necessarily considered a fatal objection however, as it neatly explained how it was that "in Adam" all had sinned: the whole of humanity was already contained in his loins."
This is connected closely to the idea of preformation, which posits that all living beings existed preformed inside their forebears in the manner of a Russian doll.
There must be some application of all this to organisation thinking and design...
1) Use the Idioticon index.
2) Use the search box: