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.
- Latham, J. R. (2012). Management system design for sustainable excellence: Framework, practices, and considerations. Quality Management Journal, 19(2), 15.
- Latham, J. R. (2012). Latham’s response to commentaries. Quality Management Journal, 19(2), 3.
- Latham, J. R. (2009). Complex system design: Creating sustainable change in the mortgage-finance system. Quality Management Journal, 16(3), 7.
- 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
- 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
- Process Design Studio: A Baldrige-based Approach | Rocky Mountain Product Development and Management Association | Denver | March 15, 2007
- The Mind of the Organization Architect | Keynote | California Council for Excellence Fall Best Practices Conference | Napa | September 21, 2007
- Designing a Custom Leadership System: Process Design Studio | California Council for Excellence | Fall Excellence: A Full Harvest of Best Practices | Napa | September 20, 2007
As part of my research, I continue to be involved in research projects that are related to the design of a variety of excellence frameworks. While my management design framework research focuses on the methods of the design process, the research on sustainable excellence models is focused on the specifics of the designs for a variety of 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.
- Schulingkamp, R. & Latham, J. R. (2015). Healthcare performance excellence: A comparison of Baldrige award recipients and competitors. Quality Management Journal, 22(3), 17.
- Alexander, J. F., Jares, T. E., & Latham, J. R. (2007). Performance excellence in higher education: One business school’s journey. Palmetto Review, 10, 12.
- Mirabella, J., & Latham, J. R. (2012). Exploring indicators of one’s ability to identify opportunities for corporate improvement. Journal of Global Business Management, 8(1), 10.
- Building a Solid Foundation: Four Not So “Easy” Pieces | Presentation | The Quest for Excellence XXII – Annual Conference | NIST Getting Acquainted Workshop | Washington D. C. | April 11, 2010
- Elevating and Integrating Sustainability into Strategic Decision Making throughout Your Organization | Conference
- Elevating and Integrating the Dimensions of Triple Bottom Line into the Strategic Management System | Baldrige Award Recipients Consortium Forum
- Performance Excellence in Higher Education: A Business School’s Journey | Invited Lecture | University of South Carolina Upstate | William S. Moore Memorial Lecturer in Business |School of Administration & Economics |Spartanburg SC | May 17, 2007
Organization Diagnosis, Design, and Transformation: Baldrige User’s Guide
This guide is a resource book for leaders, organization architects, change agents, and award examiners. Whether you are diagnosing the existing organization, redesigning the management systems and processes, or leading the transformation, this practical guide has the tools and advice that you need to build a high-performing organization. The Baldrige User’s Guide is not an academic book nor is it one that you would sit down and read cover to cover. Instead, it is a resource book of tools, techniques, examples, and so forth on the systems and measures addressed by the Criteria for Performance Excellence.