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How do we determine how big is best?

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By John Bartlit

The environment, which is everything on earth, constantly struggles to find the right size for a system.

Sizes that get tried out alternate between being larger and smaller than today’s models.

A set of parts that must work together as conditions change. Examples of a system are a live animal, a corporation, an agency, a city and a fuel supply chain.

Nature evolved dinosaurs. The pterosaur, a flying relative of dinosaurs, had a wingspan of 18 meters (60 ft.). By contrast, the wingspan of the World War II British Spitfire aircraft was a mere 11 meters.

     The pterosaur, a.k.a. pterodactyl, is no longer found gliding and hopping about. It did not work so well in the scheme of things. Smaller species do better in a wide range of flying conditions.

     How about corporations? What is the right size for a corporation to be?

     One cryptic answer is, as large as people and their tools can manage. Systems smaller than this can profit from getting larger. The principle at work is the “economy of scale.”

     Economies of scale are why decent diapers cost less at Wal-Mart than at a gas station.


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