Design principles are the desired characteristics of the new system. They are cross-cutting and are used to inform the design. There are eight established design principles that have proven useful for developing high-performing organization and management systems. The design team must understand the established eight design principles and how they apply to the system being designed. The design team begins with established management system design principles such as balance, sustainability convenience (user-friendly), alignment, learning, etc., and then they identify any additional characteristics or design principles to consider during the diagnosis and design phases.
The principle of balance is the degree to which the system creates value for multiple stakeholders. While the ideal is to develop a design that maximizes the value for all the key stakeholders, the designer often has to compromise and balance the needs of the various stakeholders.
The principle of congruence is the degree to which the system components are aligned and consistent with each other and the other organizational systems, strategies, scorecard, stakeholders, culture, and context.
The principle of convenience is the degree to which the system is designed to be as convenient as possible for the participants to implement (a.k.a. user-friendly). The system includes specific processes, procedures and controls only when necessary.
The principle of coordination is the degree to which the system components are integrated and work in harmony with the other (internal and external) systems, processes, components, and stakeholders toward common objectives. This is beyond congruence and is achieved when the individual components of a system operate as a fully interconnected unit.
The principle of elegance is the degree of system complexity vs. benefit. The system includes only enough complexity as is necessary to meet the stakeholder’s needs. In other words, keep the design as simple as possible while delivering the desired benefits. This often requires looking at the system in new ways. The trick is to design organizations with just enough of the right structure and incentives and no more.
Managers want to manage. Otherwise, they feel like they are not doing their job. Maybe it is time to get rid of management as traditionally practiced and make managers designers of systems that have the right structure, features, and functions to facilitate stakeholder engagement and performance.
The human principle is the degree to which the participants in the system are able to find joy, purpose, and meaning in their work. Work is personal, and that’s a good thing (or it should be).
The principle of learning is the degree to which opportunities for reflection and learning (learning loops) are designed into the system. Reflection and learning are built into the system at key points to encourage single- and double-loop learning from experience to improve future implementation and to systematically evaluate the design of the system itself.
The sustainability principle is the degree to which the system effectively meets the near- and long-term needs of the current stakeholders without compromising the ability of future generations of stakeholders to meet their own needs. Dimensions include the economic, environmental and societal needs related to the system (adapted from UN 1987).
- Understand the established design principles and how they apply.
- Identify the desired role model characteristics to embed into the design (e.g., performance excellence).
- Identify additional principles unique to the organization, strategy, etc.
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