The crucial numbers

There are too many ambitious males — with slightly excessive testosterone in their bodies when born.  This, if anything, is the most egregious fault that affects us today. Nature hadn’t made a mistake during the six million years of living in small groups in the African Savannah, the North American Prairie or the Asian Steppes because no group was viable if growing to more than 80 to 100 individuals at all ages.

This involved no more than a dozen mature males with, on average every seventh or eighth more than usually ambitious.  This meant that as a group leader started making mistakes in old age — that being 40 or even less in those times — then there was always a natural successor to take over.

It is the fifth, sixth or seventh position in the pecking order of a group that is the most crucial.  Those furthest away from the existing leader, can be easily tempted to withdraw their loyalties and throw in their lot with a potential new leader taking shape among them.  This has occurred thousands of times in history once man forsook hunter-gatherer groups for larger bodies.  One epic story will exemplify*.

In 1917 Prime Minister Lloyd George, with a Cabinet of Ministers approaching 20 in number, was losing the war against Germany because he was unable to overrule the Royal Navy in coping with Germany’s U-boat attacks.  He reduced the number to five and changed the strategy totally.  Within weeks, masses of U-boats were sunk and sufficient food and armaments were able to be landed on our shores, turning the trend of the war around within weeks.

Today, however, with too many overlarge organizations in business and government, we have far too many unnecessarily ambitious males who are virtually foot-loose — building up their own departments for want of anything else to do —  until we begin to understand the importance of organization structures.  We’re not far along that path yet.

[*The Standing Committee of the Politburo — that, the Chinese Government — has been reduced from nine members to six in the last two or three years.  This will make the position of the President, Xi Jinping virtually unassailable until the end of his present term, 2020 and probably helps him to persuade the Politburo to extend his term of office further.]

2 thoughts on “The crucial numbers

  1. We also have ambitious females too. Of course this complicates things. Add to this that yesterday’s organizations are not today’s organizations, nor will they be tomorrow’s organizations. Lots of uncertainty!

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