Are You Wasting Time and Money on Management Fads that Don’t Work?
Successful leaders in the future will have to become architects of enduring organizations by designing systems that create sustainable results for multiple stakeholders (Latham, 2012).
Leaders today face increasing demands from a variety of stakeholders, increasing global competition, and rapidly evolving technology. The bar is continually being raised, and the definition of success for all types of organizations (profit-seeking, non-profit, and government) is continuously changing and increasingly complex. It seems that about the time we figure out the best way to run the organization, the world changes. Our organizational models and theories are not keeping pace with all these changes, and the successful organization architect is the one who is living on the leading edge of knowledge and creativity. It is an exciting time to be an organization designer.
When many people hear the word “design” or “designer,” they often think of fashion, interior design, or the design of everyday items such as glasses, salt shakers, and so forth. However, everything that is not created by nature is designed by humans (consciously or unconsciously). Thus, our human-created organizations can be purposefully [re]designed to produce even greater value for the multiple stakeholders. Organization designs consist of artifacts including the tangible objects and communication media from four cornerstones (stakeholders, strategy, systems, and scorecard), the culture (rituals, heroes, and symbols), and the context of the organization, including physical environment and the external operating environment. These artifacts, including the less tangible words and deeds of leaders, are what members of the organization see and hear, think and feel, and ultimately say and do.
For our purposes, organization design is a stakeholder-centered approach to aligning and integrating the systems, strategy, and scorecard with the organization’s culture and the unique context.
Like architects of buildings, organization architects must leverage what we know (the science) of organizations and systems with what is possible and not yet imagined (the art) to develop solutions that address many constraints and the needs of multiple stakeholders. There are two main types of organization architects (OAs) — formal leaders and the informal leaders who help them. Formal leaders include those leading existing organizations that need to be redesigned and entrepreneurs who are designing the organization for this first time. These are the individuals with the power and responsibility to change how the organization operates. Also, there are a variety of OAs who are informal leaders such as internal subject matter experts and external consultants who help the formal leaders.
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Leading the journey to sustainable excellence begins with an understanding of the forces for change and the stakeholders’ requirements. The leadership activities and behaviors of the organization architect are used to align the strategy, systems, and scorecard, along with a culture of service and continuous learning and improvement. Finally, design projects create the organization you really want! These are the six key steps to becoming the architect of the organization you really want. You can explore and work on these components in any order you choose. However, the sequence presented here is the most effective and efficient route for most people.
The Prize – Sustainable Excellence
The only sustainable competitive advantage in a fast-changing world is to learn faster than everyone else. If you are learning faster than your competitors, then you will eventually catch up if you are behind and once ahead of the competition you will maintain your advantage. Sustainable excellence is the creation of ever-increasing value for multiple stakeholders including investors, customers, employees, suppliers and partners, the community, and the natural environment. It is achieved through the [re]design of an organization’s systems to create continuously improving high-performance results across a comprehensive scorecard that compares favorably to relevant comparisons while embedding those changes into the culture of the organization.
Become the Architect of Your Ideal Organization!
Your current organization was designed by humans (consciously or unconsciously) and can be purposefully designed or redesigned to produce even greater value for the multiple stakeholders. As Gandhi proposed, in order to effectively lead organizational transformation “you must become the change you want to see in the organization.” Only then will you be credible.
Leader as Organization Architect is a special kind of leadership that consists of specific leadership behaviors and approaches combined with individual leader characteristics. Leaders use these behaviors, approaches, and characteristics to effectively leverage the forces and facilitators of change to [re]design and transform their organization systems, people, and culture.
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