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Thats a really interesting quote, I hadn't heard of it before today. Do you have any resources that talk of how to organise and combat this?

Not the op, but I think another way of thinking about the problem is related to Tragedy of the Commons[0]. In general, it's an issue that arises out of the different goals of the various actors, which can be orthogonal or counter to the goals of the group. One way of thinking about it intuitively is to imagine multiple painters all trying to create their own artwork on the same canvas, leading to a very messy result. The solution is for the actors to have aligned goals and execute as a team. Achieving that seems to be an interesting and unsolved problem.


It's not an unsolved problem.


Elinor Ostrom received a Nobel Prize for researching into how societies have develop structures to manage commons sustainably. Unfortunately her conclusion was there is no default solution.

I have seen this problem first hand in a startup.

I theorize that it is related to size/scale, which disassociates causes and effects across time and groups.

My solution is to keep companies as small as possible

I've been thinking about this problem for a long time, but have come to realize that keeping groups small has its own major shortcoming. Namely, it limits the ability of the group to achieve greater things. The larger the group, the more influence it has and generally the more resources it has too.

There are also plenty of counter examples in corporations and governments throughout history where the size of the organization has not affected its ability to achieve its goals or compete with smaller organizations. Therefore, I think the issue and solution lies elsewhere. Somewhere between accountability, culture and trust.

Given the force-multiplying factors of technology, more and more can be accomplished by fewer and fewer people. IBM > Google > Facebook > Instagram

That's not to say I disagree with you completely: large corporations can achieve things small ones cannot (especially as you move out of software) but I've seen plenty of talk around accountability, culture and trust, and very few results.

I agree that more may be accomplished with less in certain circumstances aided by technology. One could go as far as to say one day management and governance may be taken over by machines (fun thought experiment: ponder the ramifications for democracy when machines are capable of making better decisions than humans). I think we're a ways away from that still, but the future is exciting.

Sure there's plenty of talk around accountability and proper management without much substance and I don't claim I have any specific solutions in mind to the problem. I think keeping organizations small (i.e. tribalism) is one hack that may help, but comes with different considerations as I mentioned.

Is this a response suggesting that anarchy is the only way to defeat institutional inertia? Or a link to something that actually addresses the subject constructively and realistically?

I ask because it's a large work, but I'd read it if it was the latter.

I was also curious; here's what Wikipedia says about Kropotkin's "The Conquest of Bread":

> "In this work, Kropotkin points out what he considers to be the defects of the economic systems of feudalism and capitalism, and how he believes they thrive on and maintain poverty and scarcity, as symbol for richness and in spite of being in a time of abundance thanks to technology, while promoting privilege. He goes on to propose a more decentralised economic system based on mutual aid and voluntary cooperation, asserting that the tendencies for this kind of organisation already exist, both in evolution and in human society. He also talks about details of revolution and expropriation in order not to end in a reactionary way."


Of course there's many ways to solve any problem, but GP asked for a resource, and I gave one. Anarchy has been used realistically, and the book was written to be a realistic approach organizing people.

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