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The Intentional Organisation - Issue #3 - Is there a "Right" Organisation Model?
Is there a "best" organization model?
1. Is there a "best" organization model?
Lee was arguing that the "obsession with startups within management discourse these days" has some shortcomings, mainly when applied to existing companies. He'd like to see "more acknowledgement about the dark side of fostering market dynamics" in organisation design. Cases like Haier need to be studied more accurately because "making larger more mature companies into startups introduces inherent tensions and tradeoffs that we need to better understand. "
Zanini responded by focusing on the critical lessons of Humanocracy as a book.
I responded to both with the idea that I believe we need to acknowledge that there is no one way of organising.
This is the foundation concept of the Intentional Organisation. Organisations are Complex Adaptive Systems, and there are so many moving parts in them that it is impossible to create two organisations that are the same. Precisely like in Nature, DNA molecules mix up to create unique organisms, so we need to mix the elements of organisation design to create a uniquely valuable organisation.
We can, for sure aim at having more human-centric organisations. But the idea that a Teal, Sociocratic, Democratic, Market-Oriented (feel free to add the trendiest model here) or else defined model is superior in all cases, is entirely wrong.
I think that Reed Hastings shows this perfectly in his book. Netflix does not adopt an innovative organisation model. It has a traditional hierarchy form, with a lot of areas where Responsible Autonomy is implemented. Hastings fought bureaucracy, and here we need to agree that the concept of bureaucracy has broader (and more negative) implications that hierarchy alone. Yet, Hastings is explicit that there are domains where pure hierarchical, command and control rules make sense. For example, health and safety or anti-harassment.
Each organisation needs to reflect on two foundational drivers that are at the basis of the design intent:
What is the Value we want to deliver with our organisation? This implies an identification of the different stakeholders, as the true meaning of Value can only be defined through the relationship with them. Hint: don't assume that financial Value is the only possible way.
What is the meaning of Work for our organisation? How do we want to enable it to flourish? Hint: don't assume that "employment" and "jobs" are the only way that Work can happen.
Very few companies reason deeply on these two foundations and take for granted what the external context tells. Financial Value is accepted as the proxy for Value, and employer-employee relationship is received for Work.
Once definitions are shared, we need to think at those elements that will support Value Creation and enable Work to happen—choosing then to design each piece and component intentionally.
So if the Value I choose to deliver is absolute safety and compliance, the type of Work I will endeavour is probably around highly skilled, strictly defined and rule-bound roles. Hierarchy could fit as an organisation model, but more importantly, I will need to define a through governance and communication chain as crucial components of the operating model.
There is no single answer to the question of what is the best organisation model. The most appropriate one will be the one that is coherent with the rest of our design. And this coherence will be consolidated in a journey of continuous intentional design.
I think this is what the Managerial Discourse of today should reason.
What are your thoughts?
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3. Reading Suggestions
This week I have assembled content from a few different domains. Hope you'll enjoy.
🎒Unleashing the Decentralized Workforce is an excellent article by Andy Spence, that looks at an intriguing angle in the way Remote Work can and will develop. Definitely a thought provoking read. #FutureofWork
💸 The final results of the Finnish Universal Basic Income experiment are in. The findings are intriguing: the basic income in Finland led to a small increase in employment, significantly boosted multiple measures of the recipients’ well-being, and reinforced positive individual and societal feedback loops. #FutureofWork
📊 Performance Management is always a hot topic. A few articles caught my attention this week: One looks at the value of asking for advice vs., asking for feedback. An interesting take on individual improvement. The other looks at Teams Performance as the next shift in Performance (well, McKinsey is about a decade behind on this). #PerformanceManagement
🤑 50 Years have passed since the (in)famous essay where Milton Friedman established the Shareholder Primacy Theory based on Profit. Many have pointed at how much things have evolved, and corporations are now looking at broader constituencies. But is this the right battle? #Economics
4. The (un) Intentional Organisation 😁
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