Designing Workplaces like Cities


If the workplace is the micro environment, then is the city the macro?

Just bookmarking three great posts that look at the relationship between understanding the complexity of one type of social system – our urban environment – and social business design.

Also recommended, as an adjuct to these posts is the book, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. Dave Gray provides a summary of a key point in his The Connected Company post:

we don’t try to control cities, but we can manage them well. And if we start to look at companies as complex systems instead of machines, we can start to design and manage them for productivity instead of continuously hovering on the edge of collapse.

Cities aren’t just complex and difficult to control. They are also more productive than their corporate counterparts. In fact, the rules governing city productivity stand in stark contrast to the ominous “3/2 rule” that applies to companies. As companies add people, productivity shrinks. But as cities add people, productivity actually grows.


Image credit: A Balloon View of London (1851), Bloomsbury BY-NC-SA