The creative process of organization design is informed by theory and empirical evidence. Evidence-based management has received a lot of attention lately. However, as Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton in their book Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management point out, practitioner’s actions and practices are often not based on the latest scientific theory and are often practices that we already know do not work. It is hard to imagine an engineer or architect designing a new bridge without understanding the scientific knowledge of metallurgy (Latham, 2012). Yet, managers design organizations, policies, processes, and so forth based on little empirical evidence and often on myth passed down from generation to generation. It seems there is no shortage of demand for quick fixes and answers and no shortage of blog posts promoted on social media offering simple answers and advice. “Unfortunately, some of the advice is nonsense made up to ‘fill’ blog posts so the authors can increase their authority on the topic in the eyes of their online followers” (Latham, 2014, p. 12). The notion here is that leadership and design practice are enhanced when they are informed by, and consistent with, the latest empirical evidence for that particular practice. Research, in this case, was used to develop the frameworks AND it informs the application of the frameworks in my studio.
A key component of my research agenda is focused on the methods and considerations used to design management methods, processes, and systems. I am constantly working on developing better design methodologies and practices and exploring considerations for design. Much of this “research” is based on practice and either action research or case studies. My research on management design integrates ideas and concepts from product and service designers, appreciative inquiry, systems thinking, social construction, into the process and framework for designing leadership and management systems. This research and practice stream produced the Management Design Framework described in Latham (2012). In addition, I continue to be involved in research projects that are related to the design of a variety of excellence models. The research on sustainable excellence models is focused on the specifics of the designs for a variety of models and frameworks such as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the many derivatives. The goal is to better understand how to design management systems so that they create ever-improving value for multiple stakeholders or sustainable excellence.
- Latham, J. R. (2013). How much does your organization weigh? INNOVATION, 32(2), 4. | Read more
- Latham, J. R. (2012). Management system design for sustainable excellence: Framework, practices, and considerations. Quality Management Journal, 19(2), 15. | Read more
- Latham, J. R. (2012). Latham’s response to commentaries. Quality Management Journal, 19(2), 3. | Read more
- Latham, J. R. (2009). Complex system design: Creating sustainable change in the mortgage-finance system. Quality Management Journal, 16(3), 7. | Read more
- Management System Design for Sustainable Excellence: Framework and Methodology | Paper Presentation | 5th International Conference Design Principles & Practices | Sapienza University of Rome | Facoltà di Architettura | February 2, 2011 | Read more
- Elevating and Integrating the Dimensions of Triple Bottom Line into the Strategic Management System | with Dr. John Grant | Baldrige Award Recipients (BAR) Consortium Fall Forum | New Orleans | October 2, 2008 | Download
- Process Design Studio: A Baldrige-based Approach | Rocky Mountain Product Development and Management Association | Denver | March 15, 2007 | Download
- The Mind of the Organization Architect | Keynote | California Council for Excellence Fall Best Practices Conference | Napa | September 21, 2007 | Download
- Designing a Custom Leadership System: Process Design Studio | California Council for Excellence | Fall Excellence: A Full Harvest of Best Practices | Napa | September 20, 2007 | Download