Defined Words: resource, allocation
You’ve probably heard of the word resource before; it refers to something that is necessary to have in order to complete an action. The most common resources that the Manual will mention are energy, money, and time. The term allocation refers to an authority allotting, or giving a portion of, resources toward different functions of the system.
If you have ever created a schedule, you have allocated your time toward specific tasks that you need/want to complete. If you have ever made a budget, either personal or business, you have allocated your money to specific purchases that you need to make or refrain from making.
If you have ever been a part of a group project, the resource of everybody’s individual time and energy was allocated to finish the project most efficiently. If you decide to stay in bed all day instead of go out and run errands, again you’ve allocated your resources toward staying in bed. Resource allocation is present throughout your everyday life, though you may just call it a different name.
Resources are always limited; you could argue that sunlight is unlimited but even the sun will go out eventually. Due to limited resources, all functions of a system cannot receive all the resources they need; naturally some decisions need to be made. A hierarchy is necessary within a system in order to effectively allocate resources, with a higher level authority making the overall decisions. When making your personal schedule, you are the higher authority; when working on a group project, the manager is the higher authority.
Every resource-based decision by an authority comes with consequences. This means that if a system has five functions and you only have enough resources to supply three of them, the consequence is that two of the functions won’t work.
Let’s look at a more real world example. When military commanders are preparing for an upcoming battle, they consider where the enemy will likely attack the base. The commanders will allocate troops to guard each of the entrances to the base, though the main entrance might receive more support since it is the least protected by walls.
The commanders might also order a few troops to spy on the enemy camp to give more intelligence. If the enemy decided to attack early, those spies will not be able to give support to the defense. Therefore, the consequence of the commanders sending spies is that their support is weakened.
As a system gains more possible resources, the need for allocation increases. To explain this, we’ll look back to when insects first explored the land of early Earth. Insects, also called arthropods, absorb oxygen through pores in their exoskeleton. They have an open circulatory system which means their blood just sloshes around in a central cavity instead of having blood vessels like us.
More oxygen means easier cellular functions and even more cells. The plants that preceded the insects onto the land emitted a huge amount of oxygen into the atmosphere. The insects could then grow to massive sizes because of the added resource. However, because the resource was not allocated toward anything but size, they were unfit to adapt when the oxygen concentration decreased. This is similar to the reason small mammals were able to survive the events that wiped out so many larger dinosaur species. Resources were allocated toward maintaining the body temperature in mammals instead of size like the reptiles.
The act of allocating resources is a process that is done most efficiently by individuals who can anticipate the needs of a system. Military commanders would not allocate resources well if they were unable to anticipate their enemies’ movements. The extinction of large insects proves that a lack of anticipation might lead to drastic negative effects if resources are all allocated to the same function.
In your life, take some time to think about where you put your resources (money, time, etc.) If you feel like some of those resources are wasted, find a better way to allocate them. I’m not saying everyone needs to make a personal schedule, I personally hate schedules, but to be aware of where your resources go is to be aware that you have resources.
If you think you have absolutely no time for fun, it might mean you are just not allocating enough of your time specifically for fun. You, and only you, have the final decisions of how your life is spent.