Most organizations are like VCRs blinking 12:00. They are poorly designed, out of date and ill-prepared to survive, let alone thrive, in the modern environment” (Latham, 2013).
Unfortunately, all too often organizations approach system change with an engineering mindset vs. a human mindset and then wonder why their new system didn’t achieve the desired results. Organization systems are, at their core, human systems! Consequently, creating sustainable organizational change requires a broad, systems thinking approach. The challenge in developing sustainable business strategies is to design a system that facilitates employees in providing the best products and services to both internal and external customers. Are your systems designed to help your workforce create value for multiple stakeholders? Reaching your organization’s full potential requires custom systems that fit your unique organization and situation “like a glove!”
Reaching Your Organization’s Full Potential
Best practices and prescriptive solutions from other companies, consultants, and business books often work, yet they seldom achieve the high levels of performance possible with a custom solution that creatively adapts ideas from both theory and practice to fit your unique context. The Management Design Lab™ provides a flexible structure to design, develop, and deploy any new or redesigned initiative or system in the organization.
Management Design Lab™ participants follow the D4 + I approach and the Design Framework to guide the development of a custom organizational system (e.g., strategic planning, workforce development…) to fit their unique needs and context. The Design Framework provides a flexible structure to design, develop, and deploy any new or redesigned initiative or system in the organization. Consequently, what you learn designing your first system can be used to design systems throughout the organization. Also, the framework provides a systematic approach to designing organizational systems for all types of organizations commercial, not for profit, or government.
The discovery phase is one of the key differences between a design approach to organization system improvement and other methods of improving processes and performance. The first eight steps of the Design Framework form the discovery phase. These first eight components are the springboard to the creative design and development process. An expanded discovery process is a key enabler helping to make the leap to an aligned and integrated approach.
While we often want to jump to solutions, taking the time to complete a thorough discovery process will set the design team up to leap from where ever you are to an aligned and integrated system. The challenge is to integrate and incorporate all of these elements into the design team’s thinking without inhibiting the design team’s creativity. While a design approach that includes a discovery phase will help you leap to an aligned and integrated design, that design still requires development, testing, deployment, and continuous improvement.
Using the Design Framework, participants collaborate in a “studio” atmosphere to create custom systems that fit the unique needs of their particular organization. To facilitate innovation and agility throughout the organization, the focus is on developing an organization with just enough structure and no more.
Conceptual Design – Two versions of the conceptual design are developed during this phase including an “ideal” design and a “doable” design. The ideal design is developed first considering few constraints. The ideal design is then revised based on the known constraints to create a “doable” conceptual design. As they develop a doable design, the design team works to develop innovative solutions to overcome the constraints.
Detailed Design – This phase requires coordination and collaboration with the “owners” of other organization systems that are connected to the system being redesigned. This can be a time-consuming task requiring “give and take” over a period of weeks.
Develop, Deploy, Iterate
Depending on the nature of the process; it might be useful to develop a prototype and test the design with a small group before full-scale implementation. This will allow the design team to learn from the deployment and refine the design before it is fully implemented. Once the new design has been refined and meets the feasibility criteria, it is ready for full-scale implementation.
Deploying a system or process throughout the appropriate parts of the organization is an exercise in leading change. Successful full-scale implementation of a new design requires a plan, trained employees, resources, and a process to review progress. The time to deploy the new system varies depending on the scope of the project and the resources available. The Agency supports the design team during this process by reviewing and providing feedback on design team documents and diagrams and conducting “virtual” consults with design team leaders and members.
High performing systems and processes have “learning loops” built into the system to ensure continuous innovation and improvement and keep it current with changing organization needs.
What makes our Digital “Applications” Lab approach different?
Most organizations have tried numerous methods to improve organization performance. Many of these efforts have resulted in mixed success. Few have been able to successfully make the changes necessary to achieve and sustain high performance. So what makes this approach to design different from those previous attempts?
- Participants become Organization Designers – Participants become designers of the organizations they really want! They lead by example and “learn by doing” real work application activities. Participants become self-sufficient with the knowledge, skills, abilities, and tools to continue learning after the experience.
- Systems Thinking – A deep understanding of the underlying systems, relationships, and leverage points is the foundation for good organization design that creates sustainable value for multiple stakeholders.
- Confidence – Our approaches are based on and use scientific learning methods and science-based research to inform the custom design of systems, strategies, performance metrics, and culture to achieve and sustain high performance across a comprehensive scorecard.
- Creative & Custom – Our methods integrate design thinking to help you [re]imagine, [re]designing and [re]invent or “create custom” systems vs. simply “fixing” the old systems.
- Convenient – We use digital media and methods which are convenient flexible “bite-size chunks” for your busy schedule. The studio works on a variety of mobile devices including laptop computers, tablets, and phones.
- Better Value – Our digital approach is a better value and less of a burden on the natural environment (smaller carbon footprint with less travel, paper, etc.) compared to the face-to-face alternatives.
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