Reflections on organizational observations

On the benefits of being under resourced

An organization that is under-resourced is similar to an individual who regularly practices intermittent fasting.

In the case of the individual, weaker cells are cannibalized by the body to produce new cells. Studies has shown decreased probability of developing cancer and Alzheimer, coupled in some cases with increased longevity.

In the case of the organization, operations are forced to be focused and only opportunities backed by stronger market signals prioritized and pursued. Wastage and distractions are structurally curtailed. ROI improves as a by product.

On organic growth

An organization that is organically grown tends to be happen-chance and exhibit somewhat illegible and opaque structure.

In contrast, an organization that is deliberately designed tends to exhibit a legible and transparent structure.

Counter intuitively, it is the former that exhibits more resilience in times of environmental stress. The observed illegibility and opaqueness is attributed to the process of organic adaption to its environment. Chief historical examples are:

  • Military of Carthage
  • Genghis Khan’s Mongolian horde

Related readings

Symbiotic relationships between man and other species

Somewhere along in time, Man formed semi-symbiotic relationships with selected species of plants and animals. Thereafter this cohabiting social structure was scaled up the world over. 

As the process ran its course, other species were inevitably marginalized due to habitat loss, some driven almost to the brink of extinction.

It is interesting to note, the larger the physical size of an unincorporated specie and the closer it’s distance to the brink of extinction. 

The long term trend tends towards mono-cultures and minification of species. 

Man does not share the position at the top of the food chain well with others.

Key observations in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, a city under construction

On society

  • 120 million relatively young population
  • 65% of youth graduate from college
  • unemployment rate is 85%
  •  The Youth is hungry for opportunity to advance in life
  • The Youth is highly optimistic and have faith in their prime minister
  • Shifting away from a tribal centric identity to a nation identity is the key challenge for the country. Tribal warfare was observed in Matema region.

On infrastructure

  • One belt one road initiative has thus far rebuilt 85% of all major highways
  • significant levels of Chinese operated construction observed in Addis Ababa where Chinese occupy the management layer while the locals occupy the manual layer.
  • Significant levels of new housing construction in villages by locals. Projects are facilitated by ease of material transport due to improved road conditions.
  • At the moment of writing, Chinese built daily train is in operation from Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Chinese management is in process of doing knowledge transfer to local with the intention of handing eventual management.

On nature and agriculture

  • mixed of highland and grassland terrain
  • lowlands are utilized for the cultivation of wheat, corn and coffee
  • highlands are utilized for the cultivation of potato and barley

On technology

  • Ethiopia’s own version of Uber was launched earlier this year.
  • Country-wide established 3G networks has been observed
  • Majority of people were seen using Android mobile phones like Samsung and Huawei.
  • Tenco is a locally manufactured Android phone ran by Chinese management. Typical phone sells for USD50.

On foreign relations with China

  • China is the largest trading partner where food is the main export.
  • China’s one belt one road initiative in Ethiopia aims to increase supplies of raw materials available to the middle class rich in China by building up critical infrastructure like roads and manufacturing facilities to increase overall throughput volume from this agriculturally fertile region.
  • The approach is to utilize Chinese capital, Chinese management expertise and operations technique gained from the rebuilding of their economy, local raw materials and local human labor.
  • Where maintenance is required knowledge transfer occurs. This serves to help conserve Chinese human capital as they further their initiative across the region.
  • The observed build up of educated youth will likely help facilitate the necessary knowledge to ensure infrastructure gets maintained beyond the time period of the initiative.

Related readings

  • Why the west rules for now, Morris Ian

On similarities between organizations and organisms

An individual in an organization is similar to a cell in an organism.

The earlier the stage in the life cycle, the more generic and diverse the basic unit is. Founders and stem cells.

As maturity occurs, the basic unit becomes more specialized and in some cases loses ability that units in earlier stages had but is more adapted to performing its tasks. Stem cells can become bone cells but bone cells cannot become stem cells.

It is important to keep in mind that every organization and organism has a inherent DNA that will inevitably express itself.

Micheal Porter states an organization should not measure its success by its size but by how fit it’s configuration is in terms of serving its purpose. Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest posits that the organism most suited for its environment will be the one that flourishes in that environment. In none of these two statements were there mention of size as an advantage.

Regarding cells and individuals, there comes a time in the life cycle of the organism/organization when the cell dies off and the individual departs.

Reflections for the morning

A purely functional approach to solving a user problem tends to lead to an overall disjointed user experience. A purely experiential approach to solving a user problem tends to lead to an unruly infrastructure that becomes harder and harder to maintain overtime.

The discipline is to explore the different alternatives to tease out the intersection that best satisfies form and function at each crossroad of a product’s development.

The second order constrain is the trade off between time/resources and variants explored.

The third order constrain is the utilization of time to build capababilty to translate resources to number of variants to be explored.

Time is thus the highest order constrain to building a strong solid foundation. Trees that grow taller and has denser trunks tend to have a longer time maturity. A by-product is their fire resistance. The sequoia tree avoids unnecessary extravagance but conserves all its energy to grow quietly, adamantly and deeply to achieve a majestic presence overtime.

Book summaries – Vertical Farming

  • Start small
    • beginners – 100 square feet versus 400 square feet
      • 5 varieties
    • experienced – 600 square feet
  • Plan by sketching layout
  • Vegetation type
    • Leafy green perform – ok under shade
    • Radishes – require little soil
    • herbs – shallow root system
  • Methods
    • Companion planting
    • Succession planting
    • Hydroponics
    • Aeroponics
    • Vertical garden tower
    • Verticon – 4 feet
  • Irrigation
    • drip irrigation
    • Sprinkler
  • Soil
    • sufficiently aerated
    • properly drained
    • adequate moisture
    • light fluffy composition
  • Nutrients
    • nitrogen
    • potassium
    • magnesium
    • phosphorus
    • calcium
  • Influencers
    • Patrick Blanc
  • Mushrooms
    • Cheap source of iron
    • lowers risk of cancer, diabetes and heart diseases
  • Future
    • midsize city annually produces gigaton of solid material and billions of gallons of waste water
    • In nature there is no waste
    • future out how to setup a system with zero waste
    • Participating countries
      • China,
      • Germany
      • Netherlands,
      • Belgium
      • Iceland
      • New Zealand
      • Australia
      • Dubai
      • Abu Dhabi
      • Japan
    • Reduce overall carbon foot print
    • UN prediction sever water shortage
      • 400 million today
      • 4 billion by 2050
    • Google might work on project

External references

  • Mushrooms: How to grow them; A practical treatise on Mushroom culture for profit and pleasure, William Falconer
  • Collapse, Jare Diamond
  • The vertical farm, feeding the world in the 21st century, Dr Dickson Despommier

Book Summary – Mycelium running

Usages

  • antibiotics
  • increasing immune system’s natural defense
    • potential cure for HIV
  • environment management
    • mycofiltration: reduce risk of infection from sewage and effects of oil spill
    • bioaccumulation: consolidates heavy metal
    • Pest management: Cordyceps Metarhizium versus termites

Substrates

  • Corn corbs

Insights

  • diversity in fungal population directly correlated with strength and health of any ecosystem
  • sensitive to dry contact. 1 layer of skin

References

  • Growing gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, Paul Stamets
  • The mushroom cultivator, Paul Stamets
  • Medicinal mushrooms, Christopher Hobbs
  • MycoMedicinals, Paul Stamets
  • All the rain promises and more
  • Mushrooms demystified
  • Oyster mushroom cultivation, MushWorld
  • Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation, MushWorld
  • One Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka
  • Permaculture: A practical guide for sustainable future, Mollison