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.
Mind of the Organization Architect
The mind of the leader + designer is multi-dimensional and integrates perspectives from multiple disciplines including economics, management science, engineering, psychology, anthropology, and art. The OA is practical and incorporates economics, engineering, and management science mindsets to inform the technical design of systems so that it makes financial sense. As part psychologist and part anthropologist, the OA incorporates insights into how individuals think, feel, work together, and develop cultural norms. Finally, the complete OA is a creative designer that incorporates the possibilities of art and design into developing new and imaginative designs. This multi-disciplinary perspective informs the two essential OA competencies of leadership and design. Regardless of position or title, organization architects (leaders, entrepreneurs, and those who help them) must master two skills — leading transformation and organization design.
The journey to sustainable excellence is challenging and uncertain. Many change efforts fail to achieve their objectives because leaders fail to set the example and personally see it through. The first step in the journey is for leaders to begin with themselves. As Gandhi proposed, you must become the change you want to see in the organization. Only then will you be credible. Setting the example requires you to understand and apply the five critical components of the leading transformation framework: forces and facilitators of change, leadership system, leadership style, culture, and the individual leader. The Leadership Framework is based on the experiences of CEOs who led successful organization transformations that created sustainable value for multiple stakeholders. The flexible framework includes a design framework to help OAs [re]design the organization one design project at a time.
Reaching your organization’s full potential demands organization and managerial systems that are custom-tailored to your unique situation. Best practices from other companies, consultants, and business books often work, yet they seldom achieve the high levels of performance possible with a “bespoke” (custom) solution. The Design Framework increases the odds of successful and sustainable strategy deployment. The Design Framework guides you through the five phases of discovery, design, develop, deploy, and iterate (D4 + I) using a flexible approach for designing or redesigning any organization system, process, or practice. While the framework components are presented in sequence, the actual use of the framework is often an iterative give and take between the individual components. The first eight discovery components provide a springboard to the creative design process.
Both formal and informal leader organization architects must be able to lead across functional boundaries to be successful. OAs are found at all levels of the organization, and their design efforts range from processes to systems to the overall structure and business model. What is needed to achieve sustainable excellence is for leaders to become architects of their organizations and [re]imagine and [re]invent them to create value for multiple stakeholders. The Leadership & Design Blueprint is a flexible framework to assist you in your journey.
Enjoy the journey!