Self-organization, or decentralized control, is widespread in biological systems, including cells, organisms, and groups. It is not, however, the universal means of organization. I argue that a biological system will be self-organized when it possesses a large number of subunits, and these subunits lack either the communicational abilities or the computational abilities, or both, that are needed to implement centralized control. Such control requires a well informed and highly intelligent supervisor. I stress that the subunits in a self-organized system do not necessarily have low cognitive abilities. A lack of preadaptations for evolving a system-wide communication network can prevent the evolution of centralized control. Hence, sometimes even systems whose subunits possess high cognitive abilities will be self-organized.