Jackson, P.R., Manchester School of Management, UMIST, United Kingdom and Yeow, P., Chuo University, Japan
Rapid changes in information and communications technology mean that internal and external organisational boundaries are becoming increasingly permeable. Outsourcing and complex inter-company alliances make it much less obvious where organisational boundaries are. Internally too, boundaries are becoming unclear as organisations change from a function- based to a process-based structure. These changes have profound consequences for how employees define their individual identity, and for how companies define and promote their organisational identity. We explore the metaphor of the hologram as showing what kinds of organisations are needed to deal with these twin demands. The hologram uses laser light, and in a holographic image each part can be used to re-create the whole picture. The individual parts of the holographic image are not redundant: the picture recreated from one small part of a holographic image contains less detail than that from the whole image and from a different point of view. We use findings from several projects to describe four characteristics of the holographic organisation: (1) their holistic nature based on a shared vision and set of core values; (2)individuals within holographic organisations are empowered, active agent; (3)the structure of holographic organisations is that of a loosely coupled network which is richly connected; (4)holographic organisations are characterised by collective, distributed intelligence. We relate the metaphor to recent developments in complexity science, and in particular to the idea that organisations should operate 'at the edge of chaos'.