Machine Metaphor + Living Systems

Machine Metaphor


Taylor, F. "Industrial era theory of management that has become the business norm and is still prominent today.” Scientific Management.  New York: Harper Brothers; 1911.    


John Broadus Watson is considered by many to be the father of behaviorism.  Watson considered man a machine and hence proposed that children should be seen as objects. The book taught that the goal of parenting was to strictly discipline and force children into emotionless, proscribed behaviors, so that they would be honed for use by the industrial machine. It was highly popularized at the time and has been absorbed as a cultural norm that is still highly prevalent.



Watson, J. B. (1928). Psychological Care of Infant and Child. New York: W.W. Norton Company.


Sir Ken Robinson is an internationally acclaimed educator who has exposed the "factory" structure and function of education as a tool to produce obedient workers for the industrial system.  He speaks tellingly of the 98% of children who are considered genius level in creativity at two years old and the 2% that remain so after high school. Enjoy his short video "Changing Education Paradigms"


Robinson, K. Out of our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Capstone Publishing Ltd., 2001, 2011.


Living Systems


Elisabet Sahtouris is an evolutionary biologist who has described at length the ways in which businesses and organizations are living systems, in all the characteristics they share with living, breathing Life. Learn more about her "Biology of Business" here., a set of operating principles designed for businesses to thrive in the face of decreasing predictability and rapidly changing environments. 


Spiral Dynamics, a theory of human development, sociocultural, evolutionary, and organizational development founded by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan. The theory posits that human social development evolves in response to the complexity of life conditions. The stages of evolution oscillate between communal/collective value systems and individualistic expression. Overview slides of Spiral Dyanmics are available online.


The Vital Edge: A blog by Gideon Rosenblatt about shaping the future of technology and reimagining businesses with purpose.

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