Homeostasis: The Result of Successful Management



I found the following article on Wikipedia and immediately realized the correlation between homeostasis in the scientific world and sustainable success in the business world. I found it very interesting to "edit" the piece by (inserting applicable terms) which serve as viable substitutions to the words preceding them.

For another coherent piece, one might also substitute familial terms along with principles of: love, discipline, respect and education respectively as these scientific concepts are universally sound across every family, school and business that is, at it's core, a small branch of the greater natural world in which we live.


 "In simple terms, it is a process in which the body's internal environment is kept stable, despite changes in external conditions. The concept was described by Claude Bernarrd as Multiple dynamic equilibrium adjustment and regulation mechanisms make homeostasis possible."

With regard to any given life system (business) an organism (employee) may be a conformer or a regulator.

Regulators (managers) try to maintain parameters at a constant level over possibly wide ambient environmental variations.

Conformers (smart hires) allow the environment to determine their parameters (buy in).

For instance endothermic animals, namely mammals and birds(successful managers) maintain a constant body temperature (standard), while ectothermic animals, namely almost all other organisms (non-managent)unless acted upon may exhibit wide body temperature (behavioral) variation.

Behavioral adaptations (engaged managers) allow ectothermic animals (non-managent) to exert some control over a given parameter.

For instance, reptiles (unsatisfied employees) often rest on sun-heated rocks (strong leaders) in the morning to raise their body temperature (morale, performance or perception).

Regulators (Management) are also responsive to external circumstances (customers, market fluxtuation, demand, competition, etc..), however: if the same sun-baked boulder (motivational leader) happens to host a ground squirrel (colleague / employee requiring less motivation) , the animal's metabolism (colleague's moral, performance, perception, etc...) will adjust to the lesser need for internal heat production (motivation) .[citation needed]

An advantage of homeostatic regulation (effective management) is that it allows an organism (business) to function effectively in a broad range of environmental conditions. For example,ectotherms( non-management employees) tend to become sluggish at low temperatures (when business is slow), whereas a co-located endotherm (manager) may be fully active. That thermal stability comes at a price (higher salary and benefits) since an automatic regulation system (keeping your head when all others about you are losing theirs...) requires additional energy.

All homeostatic control mechanisms (Successful Systems of Operation) have at least three interdependent components for the variable being regulated: The receptor is the sensing component that monitors and responds to changes in the environment (executives / general managers). When the receptor senses a stimulus (performance), it sends information to a "control center", the component that sets the range at which a variable is maintained (board of directors / ownership) The control center (board) determines an appropriate response to the stimulus (performance). In most homeostatic mechanisms, the control center is the brain. The control center then sends signals to effectors (mid-level management), which can be muscles, organs or other structures that receive signals from the receptors (general manager) or control center (directors). After receiving the signal, a change occurs to correct the deviation by either enhancing it with positive feedback or depressing it with negative feedback.[10]

Positive Feedback:

Mechanisms (praise) designed to accelerate or enhance the output created by a stimulus (successful performance) that has already been activated (achieved).

Unlike negative feedback mechanisms that initiate to maintain or regulate (critique / correct) physiological functions within a set and narrow range (underperformance), the positive feedback mechanisms are designed to push levels out of normal ranges (motivate by positive reinforcement).

To achieve this effect, a series of events initiates a cascading process (appreciation and engagement) that builds to increase the effect of the stimulus (performance). This process can be beneficial but is rarely used by the body due to risks of the acceleration's (unwarranted praise/ reward or unnecessary expenses) benefit being diluted.

One positive feedback example event in the body is blood platelet accumulation, which, in turn, causesblood clotting in response to a break or tear in the lining of blood vessels. Another example is the release of oxytocin to intensify the contractions that take place during childbirth.[10]

Negative feedback:

Negative feedback mechanisms consist of reducing the output activity (limiting privileges or offering constructive criticism) of any organ (employee with opportunity to improve) or system (many) back to its normal range of functioning (procedure).

A good example of this is regulating blood pressure. Blood vessels can sense resistance of blood flow against the walls when blood pressure increases. The blood vessels act as the receptors and they relay this message to the brain. The brain then sends a message to the heart and blood vessels, both of which are the effectors. The heart rate would decrease as the blood vessels increase in diameter (known as vasodilation). This change would cause the blood pressure to fall back to its normal range. The opposite would happen when blood pressure decreases, and would cause vasoconstriction.

Another important example is seen when the body is deprived of food. The body would then reset the metabolic set point to a lower than normal value. This would allow the body to continue to function, at a slower rate, even though the body is starving. Therefore, people who deprive themselves of food while trying to lose weight would find it easy to shed weight initially and much harder to lose more after. This is due to the body readjusting itself to a lower metabolic set point to allow the body to survive with its low supply of energy. Exercise can change this effect by increasing the metabolic demand.

Both feedbacks are equally important for the healthy functioning of one's body...

Homeostatic imbalance:

Many diseases (business failures) a result of disturbance of homeostasis, a condition known as homeostatic imbalance (mismanagement). As it ages, every organism (business) will lose efficiency in its control systems(process management). The inefficiencies gradually result in an unstable internal environment (dymamics) that increases the risk for illness (losses). In addition, homeostatic imbalance(mismanagement) is also responsible for the physical changes associated with aging (obsolescence). Even more serious than illness (losses) and other characteristics of aging(inefficiency) is death(bankruptcy). Heart failure has been seen where nominal negative feedback mechanisms become overwhelmed, and destructive positive feedback mechanisms then take over.[10]Diseases(failures) that result from a homeostatic imbalance (mismanagement) include diabetes(inability to balance books), dehydration(lack of working capital), hypoglycemia(inability to drive sales), hyperglycemia (lack of infrastructure to handle volume), gout (disruptive employees), and any disease caused by a toxin present in the bloodstream (loss, theft, embezzlement).

All of these conditions result from the presence of an increased amount of a particular substance (problem). In ideal circumstances, homeostatic control mechanisms (successful management) should prevent this imbalance from occurring, but, in some people (organizations), the mechanisms (standard operating procedure, standard of care or systems of operation) do not work efficiently enough or the quantity of the substance (seriousness or lifespan of the problem) exceeds the levels at which it can be managed.

In these cases, medical intervention (outside consulting services) is necessary to restore the balance, or permanent damage to the organs (culture, mission, people power, etc...) may result.

According to the following citation, every illness has aspects to it that are a result of lost homeostasis (managent controls): "Just as we live in a constantly changing world, so do the cells and tissues (businesses) survive in a constantly changing microenvironment (marketplace). The 'normal' or 'physiologic' (profitable or sustainable) state then is achieved by adaptive responses to the ebb and flow of various stimuli (activity and performance) permitting the cells and tissues to adapt and to live in harmony within their microenvironment... Thus, homeostasis is preserved. What is good for individual cell is good for the entire system.


Author George Leonard discusses in his book "Mastery" how homeostasis affects our behavior and who we are. He states that homeostasis will prevent our body from making drastic changes and maintain stability in our lives even if it is detrimental to us.[12]Examples include when an obese person starts exercising, homeostasis in the body resists the activity to maintain stability.[13] Another example Leonard uses is an unstable family where the father has been a raging alcoholic and suddenly stops and the son starts up a drug habit to maintain stability in the family.

A note to other advisors, consultants, parents or anyone looking to champion a turn-around, Leonard also said: "Homeostasis is the main factor that stops people changing their habits because our bodies view change as dangerous unless it is very slow." Expect resistance and unnecessary delays if the need for change isn't first communicated and desired system-wide. Expect success if it is and you have the time and resources to walk them as opposed to pushing them through it.

Alternative Asset: Montessori - Our Smartest Investment

The public schools in Sioux Falls are as good as (or better) than the public schools in the affluent western suburbs of Philadelphia (US News and world reports ranks the local high-schools in Lincoln County as #1 in the state and #600 out of the 24,000+ reviewed in the entire nation). We found a Montessori School for Catherine (Baan Dek) that exceeded the expectations previously set by an exhausting three months of research and meetings with educators at almost a dozen schools back east. The facility, staff and culture at Baan Dek Montessori continues to be a source of pride and gratitude for our entire family.

The following is a letter my wife and I sent to Bobby & June George (owners of the Baan Dek Montessori):

We enrolled our 3yr old daughter in the part-time program at Baan Dek Montessori two months ago because everyone we met there seemed to exude a conscious compassion and genuine passion for education.

The more we witness the Montessori method of teaching in action, the more we realize how misguided we were in thinking that Montessori was simply a school for the over-privileged children of liberal parents who see structure as stifling.    

Over the last two months, through your workshop initiatives like “Preparation for Numeracy”, my wife and I have come to a deeper understanding of (and appreciation for) the Montessori method. We now recognize Montessori as a bridge between conceptual learning and physical comprehension...a maternal imperative, if within means, since our educational aspirations for Catherine go beyond the development of her scholastic competence. We have a sincere desire for her to comprehend the world in which we live... and be empowered to enrich it.

We now know that Baan Dek is actually an advantage, as opposed to an amenity, that we are grateful to afford our daughter and thank you for making possible.



Entry Point: Starting School on a Part-Time Basis

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When faced with the dilemma of sending Catherine to school on a Full-Time basis (which would include recess, lunch and naps) versus a Part-Time basis (going home at 11:30am), we asked if the tuition could be pro-rated to reflect a gradual increase of time spent there each day.

We thought a gradual introduction to school beginning with a Part-Time schedule would be best and that she would eventually communicate her willingness and/or desire to spend more time at school as she develops relationships and a respective comfort level.  They agreed so long as her pick-up times were during windows that would not be disruptive to the other childrens’ routines. 

With the exception of a few days at her grandparent’s and a few nights in hotels, Catherine hadn’t once taken a nap outside of our home. Although we realized that it would happen…we certainly didn’t want to be married to a date by which it would happen.  Even the thought that she would be lying down for a nap in a strange place was so incredible to imagine that it made me laugh nervously at the teacher's mere mention of it.

So we’re opted to gradually bring her into the waters of Montessori like a bagged goldfish into a new tank . Not that we thought the sudden climate change might have killed her…kids seem pretty pliable and resilient. This gradual introduction served more as psychological transition time for us than for her.


A few days later we brought a blanket and Pillow to school with us. The goal was for her to see more of her things there and simply get comfortable with the idea that she could take a nap there if she was so inclined. When I arrived to pick her up at 1:30 yesterday, her teacher Mrs.Berry rushed to greet me with a finger held against her lips. She whispered: “Catherine came in from recess and was so excited to take a nap in her spot that she was actually the first one to lay down!” I asked if I could take a peek through the double-sided mirror and she quietly walked me over. There I could see the my little girl's golden locks peeking out from under a blanket covering her little body with her legs tucked-up under her. Catherine was twirling her hair with one hand while the other was softly tucked for suckling in her mouth. Mrs. Will (her other teacher) was  gently, rythmically, rubbing her back. Suddenly I felt like “this was it”. Like it was all about to come to an end…. I was immediately struck with the heaviness that accompanies a sad farewell in my heart. I suddenly realized that I was going to find her doing more and more without me. Growing up and being magical with other people and I wouldn’t be there to see even hear what she was saying. I fought back a tear…partly of joy and partly of sadness. I drove back home and imagined the joy of relishing something ordinary and mundane with her in the future... like a game of basketball in the driveway after not seeing her for so long. Like Steve Martin in Parenthood only backwards….instead of my eyes welling up from recalling images of her childhood, I was lost, only for a moment, in realizing that her "growing-up" meant relying less on me.