Sunday, November 3, 2013

Behavioral flexibility

A recent study in The American Naturalist suggests that animals show an equal level of behavioral unpredictability as humans. Observations of adult male mosquitofish over a period of time also seem to indicate that some individuals are more unpredictable compared to others. The authors hypothesize that such unpredictability represents behavioral flexibility that facilitates learning or creates confusion for predators.

These observations have implications for modern organizations also. Large enterprises implement organizational constraints to reduce behavioral volatility of its employees – in how they work, execute tasks, get trained and deliver products and services. They also measure time and effort at detailed task level and they generally view volatility in such metrics as undesirable. These actions by companies may be decreasing the ability of their employees to experiment and learn. The long term impact of this could include declining innovation rate, lack of job satisfaction and stagnant productivity.

Unpredictability and behavioral flexibility may have a positive impact on the viability and growth of organizations.

Ref: Flexibility : Flexible Companies for the Uncertain World.

http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781439816325