What happens with traditional organizational design?
Traditional hierarchical structure is designed to facilitate the “flow” of commands and the resulting control thereof. This “flow” is orthogonal to the flow of the work that delivers business value to the customer. We believe that the organization should emerge as a result of the tendency of moving things to generate designs that facilitate flow access. We build an organizational model, test the model with a best-case and worst-case scenario. We do this by simulation; moving a slice of a product/service through the model, ideally with an end-to-end scope. That is to say, from the initial concept all the way to delivery of the product/service slice to the customer. We flow backwards and forwards through the model looking for areas where we can increase fluidity – the fluidity of how this work flows through an organization, from the customer request to customer delivery on that request.
Why model using 3D modeling tools?
We were inspired by Peter Bevelin’s “thinking tools” which he shared in his book “Seeking Wisdom.” One of his thinking tools asks us to “model reality, and flow through the model backwards, forwards, with a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario.” What we discovered is that when you model in 3D versus 2D, there is a whole other psychologically-inspired world that opens up to us when we can use color, shape, and distance to mirror the “real life” occurring in our organizations. On one end of the spectrum, you will see things like Product Owners built on totem poles, all in black bricks wielding weapons, while the team members are all kneeling in front of the PO as far away as they can get. And the other end of the spectrum you might see a closely knit team comprised of all the skills necessary to build a product, networked to a think tank, including a customer close in proximity, collaborating closely with the team. The psychological “health” of the organization comes out in a 3D model, allowing teams to probe and improve further.
Why involve the whole team?
Well, though intuitively it seems normal that if a team was involved in creating the organizational structure they might be more engaged to see a successful happy outcome, we stumbled across a paper, “Towards a healthy organization model: the relevance of empowerment” by Maria J. Jaimez and Francisco D. Bretones from the University of Grenada. The paper shows a clear link between structural empowerment (offering teams greater control over their workplace), and psychological empowerment (the team’s autonomy, meaning, impact and internalization) and healthy practices at the workplace: higher work wellbeing, higher subjective wellbeing, good work climate, low index of work absenteeism, low index of voluntary turnover or intention to leave. All in all, we now believe that involving teams in designing their own organization is a complete win-win situation.
Interested in seeing what Whole-Team Dynamic Organizational Modeling looks and feels like? We’ve got a short clip from Agile2016 that gives you the idea.