Human Scale Organisations

I don't really do New Year’s resolutions and I certainly don't do predictions for the forthcoming decade. The best I can offer is my hope for the way things are moving, namely to create more human scale organisations. By this I mean those organisations with a common sense approach to me as a consumer, citizen, employee, partner or competitor.

We are at an interesting junction where we simultaneously distrust huge organisations but at the same time are enthralled by them. We all now we need to adapt to the realities of a connected world and the multiple scales upon which it operates.

Human Scale organisations are fundamentally different in that they:

  1. Tend towards sharing first and inventing second, to create mutual value;
  2. Are honest about the mistakes they’ve made and seek to rectify them quickly;
  3. Know their strengths and weaknesses and so actively seek complementary partners;
  4. Prioritise long term relationships over short term outcomes;
  5. Systematically focus on the macro and the micro.

This is just a starter for ten but that’s what I'll be working on for the new few years and I’d love to work with others to make this happen. As always I’d be interested in your views and any examples of those organisations that combine global and human scales effectively.


  1. Universities should expand research into organisation size theory.
    My 2p starts with considering the activities of the organisation, and whether these activities have positive or negative economies of scale.
    Large positive economies of scale clearly imply big organisations such as car building. Large negative economies of scale imply self employment (window cleaning?). I think there is another sweet spot somewhere at the small partnership level.
    Humans like working with Human Scale Organisations, but other economic forces are in play. Should technical innovation focus on providing tools that bring the efficiency of Human Scale Organisations up to that of their larger competitors?
    I am thinking of high quality independent support such as accountants and lawyers. Opportunities could be: computer systems support, HR management, quality control, book keeping, recruitment, telesales and possibly even cleaning.
    So many of these tasks are inefficiently done in house, and distract management from being a Human Scale Organisation.

  2. Great comments Silver polisher and I agree wholeheartedly. Isn’t what you describe what is happening with all these web tools which allows small orgs to operate at scale and vice versa.
    Also relevant is Putnams work on optimum org size, up to units of 150 which Gortex use as an operating principal (above which silos naturally tend to form).

  3. Have a look at which describes how to knit lots of small teams (a necessity for remote electronic working) together. The social and economic impact of moving beyond ‘social networking’ into ‘productive networking’ are huge. Treems shows how to make it happen.

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