The definition of success for organizations of all types (profit-seeking, non-profit, and government) is continuously changing and increasingly complex. From the mid-1940s to the 1970s the limited global competition allowed business leaders in the U. S. to focus mainly on financial results. Due to increasing competition, in the 1980s quality became a key success factor and was directly linked to customer value, market share and ultimately financial success. As the service industry and, in particular, the knowledge worker industries increased in size and importance, leaders discovered that talented, passionate people are also a key to high quality and financial performance.
The “bar” has been raised once again to include sustainable results in three key areas – financial, societal, and environmental – the triple bottom line. In addition, over 50% of workers don’t want to work for their current organization and less than a third of the people in organizations today are engaged. We know that employee engagement is linked to other critical organization performance outcomes such as innovation, productivity, customer satisfaction, and in turn, financial performance. Unfortunately, the “pieces and parts” approach to addressing individual symptoms without adequate consideration of the larger system has, in many cases, resulted in organizations that are “kludges” of ill-fitting components making it difficult to create value for any of the stakeholders. What is needed is nothing short of a renaissance of organization thinking and design.
The Leadership Framework for Organization Architects™ is organized into five key components. While there are many possible “routes” to sustainable excellence, a useful approach is to organize the five components into a sequence of 14 steps. The first step in the journey to sustainable excellence is to identify the forces that are pushing and pulling your organization to change. These forces must be sufficient to overcome the inertia of the status quo. Then leaders develop their leadership system (steps 2-10) and combine that with their leadership style (step 11). The leadership system and style influence the development of the organization culture (step 12). Creating and sustaining the systems, style, and culture often requires the individual leaders change and develop to support the desired leadership system + style and culture (step 13). This “look below the surface” often reveals characteristics, motivations, and attitudes that need to be developed as the journey unfolds. Reflecting on the previous 13 steps leaders plan the path forward and prioritize the activities and design projects needed to facilitate the journey to sustainable excellence. Embedded in the journey are three essential cross-cutting enablers – alignment, leadership, and design. | For a more detailed description of the 14-Steps see the Blueprint Overview.
Before “launching off” on design and redesign projects, senior leaders first need to align the four cornerstones of stakeholders, strategy, systems, and scorecard with the culture and context. Leaders first develop and align the stakeholder map with the strategy with an organization systems model and a comprehensive scorecard. The key culture elements including heroes, symbols, and rituals are described and aligned with the cornerstones. The cornerstones and culture are consistent with the unique organization context of the organization. The result is a common understanding among the leaders and organization members regarding the desired “DNA” of the entire enterprise that will guide the system design and redesign efforts.
The organization architect of the future will need to master both the technical AND human aspects of organization design and change. In other words, the organization architect will have to combine science and systems thinking with creativity and design thinking to develop the organizations they really want. To be successful, the organization architect has to become the change they want to see in their organization. There are three inter-related leadership components that organization architects must develop to lead the design or redesign of the organization. These three components include a custom approach to how they spend their time (system or leader activities) and leadership style (behaviors) combined with individual leader characteristics and the mindset of an organization architect. To fully develop their leadership and design skills they also must learn how to design.
The journey consists of building (or rebuilding) the new organization by designing, developing, and deploying repeatable and scalable systems and processes that work together to create value for multiple stakeholders. Based on the Design Framework for Organization Architects™, leaders collaborate in a “studio” atmosphere to create custom systems that fit the unique needs of their particular organization. To maintain high levels of innovation throughout the organization, the focus is on developing an organization with just enough structure and no more. Each design studio project focuses on designing a specific organizational system (e.g., strategic management, training, and development, measurement and analysis) to create the organization leaders really want.
Enjoy the journey,