Bucket Brigades: A Self-organizing Scheme for Sharing Work

John J. Bartholdi, III, Donald D. Eisenstein

Self-organizing systems do not require a centralized authority to manage them. Instead, they achieve global coSrdination spontaneously through the interaction of many simple components. When workers are organized into "bucket brigades" they can function as a self-organizing system that spontaneously achieves its own optimum configura-tion without conscious intention of the workers, with-out guidance from management, without any model of work content, indeed without any data at all. The system in effect acts as its own computer. We give examples in manufacturing and in warehousing.


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