simulacra and simulation


Simulacra and simulation

In his book “Simulacra and Simulation” published in 1981, Jean Baudrillard concluded that we were living in a simulation constructed by the media. I would argue that in tech companies, we live in a simulation constructed by management.


Baudrillard categorizes the breakdown of the image into simulation via four successive phases in his book “Simulations”:

  1. The image first reflects a basic reality.
  2. Then it masks or perverts that basic reality.
  3. Then it masks the absence of a basic reality.
  4. Finally, the image bears no relation to any reality whatever, it is its own pure simulacrum.

In a company, processes and methodologies are distorted until they only exist in a pure simulacrum. Take meetings as an example:

  1. A meeting is created in order to discuss and reach an agreement for a product decision.
  2. A ritual is created, i.e. daily meeting, in order to make more decisions.
  3. Rituals are recreated, i.e. sprint planning, backlog, and retrospective, in order to accommodate previous rituals.
  4. Finally, methodologies and processes are formalized by management, new managers are needed to keep up with the rituals, which generates more meetings in order to reach an agreement on how to operate meetings, which will end up in more methodologies and processes.

Business procedures and methodologies are abstracted and generalized until they become images that mirror deception, masking the absence of purpose until they mirror themselves.