At the Organization Design Studio™, organization design is a theory-led discipline where research and empirical evidence inform leadership and design. Organization design is a creative and context-dependent process that is enhanced when informed by the empirical evidence – what we know works, what we know doesn’t work, and in what situations. However, the nature of social science doesn’t lend itself to developing immutable “laws” that can be relied upon to design organizations and systems that will work in a variety of situations. The results from one research study are often not applicable to other contexts or organizations. Consequently, organization design is a custom, creative process to fit the unique needs of the particular organization.
Our work here at the Organization Design Studio™ is based on a foundation of research both our own research and research from the available peer-reviewed literature. The Leadership and Design Blueprint was developed from both practice and award-winning research studies. Our research agenda is focused on three areas of leading transformation, management systems design, and sustainable excellence models.
Latham, J. R. (2008). Building Bridges between Researchers and Practitioners: A Collaborative Approach to Research in Performance Excellence. Quality Management Journal, 15(1), 20.
Evans, J. R., & QMJ Editorial Board. (2013). Insights on the Future of Quality Management Research. Quality Management Journal, 20(1), 8.
Our focus is on the leader as organization architect or designer and builder of the organization and systems. The leadership aspects of the framework are divided into three key areas: the individual characteristics, the leadership style (behaviors), and the leadership system (activities). The individual leader characteristics include concepts such as personality, attitudes, motivations, worldview, talents, abilities, spiritual life, purpose, and meaning, so on and so forth. These individual characteristics influence the leader’s behaviors which combine to create a particular leadership style. The individual leader and their style influence the activities the leader chooses to do, how they do them, and how well they do them. This leadership triangle influences the organizational environment and the people who occupy that environment.
Latham, J. R. (2013). A Framework for Leading the Transformation to Performance Excellence Part I: CEO Perspectives on Forces, Facilitators, and Strategic Leadership Systems. Quality Management Journal, 20(2), 22.
Latham, J. R. (2013). A Framework for Leading the Transformation to Performance Excellence Part II: CEO Perspectives on Leadership Behaviors, Individual Leader Characteristics, and Organizational Culture. Quality Management Journal, 20(3), 22. (2014 ASQ Gryna Award Paper)
Larson, M. D., Latham, J. R., Appleby, C. A., and Harshman, C. L. (2012). CEO Attitudes and Motivations: Are They Different for High Performing Organizations? Quality Management Journal, 19(4), 15.
Latham, J. R. (2014). Leadership for Quality and Innovation: Challenges, Theories, and a Framework for Future Research [Perspectives Paper]. Quality Management Journal, 21(1). 5.
Fry, L. W., Latham, J. R., Clinebell, S. K. & Krahnke, K. (2017). Spiritual Leadership as a Model for Performance Excellence: A Study of Baldrige Award Recipients. Journal of Management, Spirituality, and Religion.
Management System Design
Leaders, whether they like it or not, wield power (position and personal) that influences the organizational environment and the degree to which it facilitates the creation of value for multiple stakeholders. The organizational environment is composed of the organization systems, the organizational culture, and the individuals who interact with the systems and culture. Much of our focus in this area has been on developing design methods, principles, and considerations related to organization and management design methods and understanding how the design of specific management systems and models create value for multiple stakeholders or sustainable excellence.
Latham, J. R. (2013). How Much Does Your Organization Weigh? Innovation, 32(2), 4. Journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Latham, J. R. (2012). Management System Design for Sustainable Excellence: Framework, Practices, and Considerations. Quality Management Journal, 19(2), 15. (2013 ASQ Gryna Award Paper)
Latham, J. R. (2012). Latham’s Response to Commentaries [Response to commentaries on the 2012 Management System Design paper]. Quality Management Journal, 19(2), 3.
Latham, J. R. (2009). Complex system design: Creating Sustainable Change in the Mortgage-Finance System [Commentary]. Quality Management Journal, 16(3), 7.
Sustainable Excellence Models
The “true test” of leadership + design is the results they produce. In this research formula, stakeholder value or sustainable excellence is the dependent variable and is measured by a comprehensive scorecard that includes measures for each of the multiple stakeholder groups. The notion here is that leadership and design are assessed based on their impact on six key stakeholder groups: customers (patients, students, etc.); workforce (including contractors and volunteers); investors (including donors and taxpayers); suppliers and partners; the community; and the natural environment. Our research interests are focused on studying the leadership and management models and methods used by organizations that have achieved ever-improving results across a comprehensive scorecard that represents multiple stakeholders and thus sustainable excellence.
Schulingkamp, R. C. & Latham, J. R. (2015). Health Care Performance Excellence: A Comparison of Baldrige Award Recipients and Competitors. Quality Management Journal, 22(3). 17.
Alexander, J. F., Jares, T. E. , & Latham, J. R. (2007). Performance Excellence in Higher Education: One Business School’s Journey. Palmetto Review, 10, 12.
Latham, J. R., & Vinyard, J. (2011). Organization diagnosis, design, and transformation: A Baldrige User’s Guide (5th ed.). Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons.