Organizing and coordinating talk and silence in organizations

The computer stores mountains of information that it communicates worldwide through an enormous bandwidth. We must learn to exercise severe, intelligent selectivity in mining our data mountains, and to communicate information in ways that will inform and not bury the recipients. This is today's task of organizational design. Organizing combines human efforts efficiently, dividing the undertaking into separate but interdependent tasks and securing good coordination in their performance. An effective organization and its buildings balance opportunity for reflective deliberation against opportunity for mutual exchange of ideas and information. That balance is lost if talk drowns out silence. In our time, silence is unlikely to drown out talk. In recent years, we have been learning a great deal about the general nature and organization of complex systems. We ourselves are complex systems and we are surrounded by a host of other complex systems: social, technical and natural. Among the important social systems are business and non-profit organizations, on a smaller scale families, and on a larger scale, ethnic groups and nations. Among the important technical systems are machines, buildings of innumerable kinds and electronic networks. Among the important natural systems are multicelled organisms and ecosystems. Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.