Friday, December 17, 2010

Groups need Design thoughts

Dave Hanna so profoundly put it once when he said "Organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they deserve". It mildly states and yet deeply registers the effects of organisation design. Most HR competency models do not throw up organisation design as a competency. I salute Dr. Worley and Dr. Mohrmann who've graced this thought discipline with finesse and scholarship of the highest order. With Dr. Lawler's timeless grace, USC's Marshall school has managed to keep this flame alight. This ever-so silent and remotely sensed faculty is otherwise perhaps the most acutely felt and poorly expressed dimension of organizational longevity and adaptation.

While a level of abstraction is necessary for most new learning of this kind, organisation design is at once a systemic and interdisciplinary dimension. It is probably the reason why specialties in HR that differentiated around Compensation and Benefits, Performance Management, Learning and Development, Policy and Administration and the like seems to find little integrative intellect to synthesise these specialisations.

I suspect that certain aspects of organisation design are whole system while others are not. Again, since this has to do with our cognitions, am wondering why leaders seeped in learning from their pasts would relinquish explicit or implicit aspects of organisation design to employees at the core of economic value adding processes. The economic or financial outcomes of a firm are scarcely perceived to be the outcomes of sentient organisation design principles. HR leadership who oversee employee concerns from their standpoints of HR specializations may never see eye to eye with business leaders who oversee business value creation. So the professional aspirations and motives of business leadership and HR leadership often tend to conflict over values. Employee championship versus shareholder concerns? Tense connections now exist between the two - a condition ripe for dialogue and wholesome conversations on our collective aspirations.

Organization Design is a wholesome conception today that involves effects of integration between business strategy, rewards, management processes, structure and systems, managerial decision systems, collateral technologies and job or role design. To conceive of such in the absence of a stakeholder review and consciousness regarding ecological balance and sustainable economic development is perhaps irresponsible. It is like seeing how the oil spills over the Gulf or how the thousands got maimed and gased out in Bhopal, India - where the effects are known and the cause is only ambiguously attributable. Like Bill Taylor says http://blogs.hbr.org/taylor/2010/06/if_your_company_went_out_of_bu.... would anybody notice? Is organisation design that silent killer competence that we did not care to pay attention to? Has the power of unleashed change outstripped our capacity to design for the future? Did systems principles popularized by Senge get to our realities faster than it got to our senses? It appears everybody knows of this in some sense, and nobody is talking on this one for want of its fullest comprehension. Silence zone! Design thinking time has arrived. Leadership of character could mark the difference between the sentient organisation and the leadership of competence that marks the opportunistic organisation. Character is about mutuality. Competence is about individuality. Hence, leadership for design is about teaming to a common purpose, as against a leader dealing in hope as a hero in waiting.

What does Organisation Design mean to you?