Organisations are complex living systems claims leading scientist

Fritjof Capra says organisations are not just like living systems – they are living systems! In his latest book, The Hidden Connections, Fritjof Capra, acclaimed physicist and author of the Web of Life and the Tao of Physics, challenges us to go beyond the metaphor and see to what extent human organisations can literally be understood as living systems.

Capra describes the five main metaphors which people have used to understand organisations:

  1. Machines
  2. Organisms
  3. Brains
  4. Cultures
  5. Systems of government

He concludes that the fundamental debate is really whether we see our organisations as Machines (predictable) or Living System (unpredictable)
In an inspirational chapter “Life and leadership in organisations” ( pp 85-112) Fritjof shows how a leader can address the key organisational and team challenges from a pure “living organisation” perspective including:

  • Change Management
  • Organisational Learning
  • Novelty and Innovation
  • Design and emergence
  • Leadership
  • Dignity


1. Capra F., 2002. The Hidden Connections, Flamingo, pp. 85-112

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