Transforming Fear to Joy

Design Principles for Relating, Working and Leading

I am freshly home from the Organization Design Forum held in Atlanta, Georgia, where my colleagues and I presented some of our ‘discoveries’ on the changing nature of organizational design in today’s New Normal business environment.  As Socio-technical systems (STS) designers, we are dedicated to co-designing humane enterprises and to optimizing both their social and their technical systems.  However, most STS practitioners would agree the enterprise’s technical system historically received greater attention and resources.  In fact, both the enterprise’s social system and governance system were and still are often overlooked or less understood.

In response to this perceived gap, we are re-evaluating and expanding upon the standard set of STS design principles to include –

1)  principles for relating and interacting with each other;
2)  principles for how the work gets done; and
3)  principles for governing (leading) the enterprise.

In last week’s blog, Coming Together, Staying Together, Working Together, I outlined a first attempt at articulating the design principles for building the interactions and relationships within the client system.  They are more concretely stated below along with principles for designing the enterprise’s work and governance systems.

Principles for Relating:

Connect  –  Bring all the voices (stakeholders) into the room
Converse  –  Ensure everyone has the opportunity to speak
Collaborate  –  Set positive intentions and appreciate strengths
Co-create  –  No design is imposed

Principles for Working:

Specify  –  Minimal critical requirements
Optimize  –  Social, technical and ecological well-being; simultaneous efficiency and innovation
Coordinate  –  People doing the work coordinate it
Inform  –  Primary user first, then all stakeholders
Match  –  Authority and resources to whole-task accountability
Maximize  –  Diverse, multi-functional teams; variety, learning and meaningfulness
Align  –  Support systems to work design
Prototype  –  Often, rapidly and continuously

Principles for Leading:

Self-regulate  –  Lead and follow as required
Distribute  –  People doing the work control it
Serve  –  Values aligned with social, technical and ecological well-being (i.e., humanity, nurturance, beauty, community)

The underlying purpose for utilizing these principles is to guide the design process in the co-creation of humane enterprises, which ultimately form cohesive, compassionate communities.

Use the principles above as a checklist to evaluate the capability of your workplace’s social, technical and ecological well-being.  Where does its strengths lie?