Reaching your organization’s full potential requires custom systems that fit your unique organization and situation “like a glove!” The Leadership System Design Lab is a collaborative “learn by doing” experience where you develop your design skills while you design a system for your organization.
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 They are poorly designed, out of date and ill-prepared to survive, let alone thrive, in the modern environment” (Latham, 2013).
Creating sustainable organizational change requires a broad, systems thinking approach. The challenge in developing sustainable business results is to design systems that help employees deliver the best products and services to both internal and external customers. Are your systems designed to help your workforce create value for multiple stakeholders?
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 Design Lab provides a flexible structure to design, develop, and deploy any new or redesigned initiative or system in the organization.
Design Lab participants follow the D4 + I approach and the Design Framework to guide the development of a custom leadership system 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.
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.
- The Discovery phase begins with an understanding of the purpose of the system and the key requirements.
- Second, the design team identifies the nature(s) of the system and the implications for design.
- Third, the design team identifies the key theories and concepts that apply to the system along with the research that identifies what works, doesn’t work, and under what conditions.
- Fourth, the design team identifies and studies high-performing examples for inspiration and creative adaptation during the design process.
- Fifth, the design team identifies the key organizational context factors that are relevant to the system being designed.
- Sixth, the design principles are applied to the system being designed.
- Seventh, the connections (inputs and outputs) to other systems are identified to guide the alignment and integration of the new or redesigned system.
- Finally, if there is an existing system that will be redesigned it is evaluated based on the results of the first seven discovery steps.
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.
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
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.
Develop – 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.
Deploy – 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. We support your 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.
Iterate – High performing systems and processes have “learning loops” built into the system to ensure continuous innovation and improvement and keep it current with changing organizational needs.
Start the Journey Today
Sign up for FREE “Do It Yourself” (DIY) Labs. Whether you are a leader of an existing organization, an entrepreneur scaling up your company, or someone helping them, these Free DIY Labs are for you. Your privacy is secure, and we promise never to sell or give your information to anyone, ever!