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Module 4 Assignment: Organizations as Brains 1

The brain metaphor as the single most powerful metaphor through which to view

organizations has lead me to the following evidence to support this position. To begin, it is

important to understand what the brain metaphor is and how it shapes the organizational

paradigm. The cognitive aspects of a brain involve problem-solving, reasoning, judgment,

formation of knowledge and also include human perception, thinking and learning. The brain

metaphor centers around the idea that the brain is an information processing system with the

ability to store a memory bank of data with a capacity to retrieve it from millions of separate

pieces into a coherent pattern. The brain is able to link stimuli and behavior with a linguistic

system that operates through a neural code to translate information, thoughts, ideas and actions

(Morgan, 72). The brain has been compared to a holographic system where it is possible to create

processes where the whole can be encoded in all the parts, so that each and every part represents

the whole (Morgan, 73).

Considering the complexity of a brain relative to an organization was supported in the

three resources assigned for this module. In the presentation by Professor Fritsvold and

Morrison, the quality of the organization is its resiliency and ability to adapt because the

organization encourages and nurtures creative thinking (Fritsvold, 2018). Paramilitary

organizations as in policing have to learn to create an environment for creative thinking. As

Professor Morrison explained, learning organizations have to be open to reshaping their

paradigm and consider that one fit does not fit the entire organization. In essence, there are

opportunities for hybrid environments that will not fit the traditional policing “box” and will

allow for small group dynamics for decentralized innovative practices within the larger

organization. In addition, it is also important to look both internally and externally as a learning
Module 4 Assignment: Organizations as Brains 2

organization to further adapt to the environmental needs and expectations. Additionally,

Professor Morrison’s example of being out with the troops at training and modeling leadership

demonstrates accountability that builds credibility for him, within the organization and amongst

the team. This provides the leadership with resiliency in their decisions because they better

understand the needs and it also creates the ability for staff to better understand the

organizational fluency and vision so it can be encoded directly.

While watching the film, Battle: Los Angeles, there were elements of several metaphors

that were observed. With regard to the brain metaphor, the holographic element of the brain

metaphor was vivid. As the battle escalated, decimating the world and eliminating the military

opposition, chaos ensued. Communication was suppressed disabling logistics and strategic

interoperability. The single unit lead by the new lieutenant with no combat experience, who was

paired with an experienced and tenured staff sergeant, were finding themselves in rapidly

changing situations. In these evolving scenes, they were learning to rely on each other as well as

their team where they were drawing from a depth of experience in combat and life, along with

organizational training and leadership. Each situation they encountered drew upon their

collective contributions to problem solve and survive. The holographic evidence favors a more,

self-organizing, decentralized, distributed form of intelligence. Pattern and order emerge from

the process; it is not imposed (Morgan, 73).

The scene that resonated from the film was at the Los Angeles Police Station. In the

scene, the staff sergeant and lieutenant are alone. The situation is deteriorating rapidly as they

hide in the station trying to gain composure and reassess what logistically and tactically they

need to do next. The staff sergeant is asking the lieutenant for the next order and he does not

have a next order as he is unable to recalibrate from the overwhelming circumstances. The staff
Module 4 Assignment: Organizations as Brains 3

sergeant tells him, “You go left or you go right. I don’t care, make a decision.” His tone and

posture were a form of cybernetics. Cybernetics is the ability of a system to engage in self-

regulating behavior and depends on processes of information exchange involving negative

feedback (Morgan, 82). The actions of the staff sergeant allowed for their process, or their

system, to regain the intelligent formation of knowledge for decision making. This feedback,

negative in its tone and intent, lead to communication and learning. The four key principles in

cybernetics involve scanning significant aspects of their environment; ability to relate to the

information to the operating norms that guide that system behavior; detect deviations from these

norms; and be able to initiate corrective action (Morgan, 82). The lieutenant was then able to

adapt and provide a direct order. In addition, the team dynamics were the success of their

mission because they were allowed to emerge and change as different elements of the system

take a lead in making their various contributions (Morgan, 114).

Collectively, there was substantial evidence to support the brain metaphor as the most

powerful metaphor to view organizations. However, establishing the climate and culture that

sustains the organizations will be challenging for leaders. A learning organization that has to

become skilled in breaking the boundaries separating it from the environment, to engage and

experience the environment as fully as possible (Morgan, 89). Contemporary leaders still

struggle with the ability to shift their architype and understand the need to be able to embrace

environmental change as a norm and develop mindsets and skills that can invent new ways of

doing business (Morgan, 88) Organizations that realize the untapped potential within their

personnel, create environments that develop leadership at all levels, let go of control a bit, just a

bit, they would become self-organizing, with potential for new forms of intelligence to emerge

(Morgan, 98).
Module 4 Assignment: Organizations as Brains 4


Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage.

Morrison & Fritsvold (2018). Presentation 4.1 Organizations as Brains. Retrieved from


Liebesman, Jonathan. Battle: Los Angeles (2011). Retrieved from