What is the future of Organisations? In order to answer that question, we first must ask ourselves why we have organisations, and what purpose they serve. So let’s start with a definition (I like the wikipedia definition):

An organization (or organisation) is a social arrangement which pursues collective goals, controls its own performance, and has a boundary separating it from its environment. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon.

I like to think about organisations with this definition in mind, the idea that we can achieve more collectively, than individually. Organisations came into being because of the need for work; work being the thing that provided food, shelter, child care. Logical and efficient division of labour occurred probably as a result of specialisation and natural divisions: the young and the old; male and female. These divisions were fairly simple: those that hunted, those that taught the younger members of a tribe to hunt, caring for the young, fighting off danger etc. However, as we evolved as a species, certain tasks relied on more complex kinds of cooperation: hunting for example, or building larger settlements. Whilst those that hunted were away, someone had to organise the women, children, and the elderly, and so early hierarchies formed.

If we zoom forwards in history, the need for more sophisticated forms of human organisation were driven by early forms of production: pottery, agriculture, textiles, and metallurgy for example. In conjunction with that, the exchange of resources, goods, and food created trade. In these early times, class would have meant very little, but as time went by status was driven by many societal factors, many driven by the organisation of labour on a larger scale.

Many of the early forms of organisation were restricted by geographical boundaries, their ability to pass on ideas of how something should be done was limited by people. But with the advances of technology such as parchment, and later the Guttenberg printing press came the ability for organisation to spread beyond borders.

Next: Factories, colonisation, and mass production