Mar 16

Introducing the New Organizational Model

New Organizational Model DiagramThe above diagram is my new organizational model which I have referred to in several previous postings. I developed this after several years of reflection and study starting with my MBA work in 2001. I was especially inspired by my Ph.D. work in developing a new model of public leadership and, later, on my study of the lean startup movement.

The new organization is designed to be agile in every aspect from the work products, leadership, and workforce. The organization is also transparent and designed for maximum information flow. Finally, the mission, vision, and strategy is baked into all that the organization does and drives the organization forward.

I will expand upon various components in future postings, but, for now, I want to give an overview of the complete model.

Starting with the upper box with the five chief officers: A common theme in organizational studies is the danger of silos and fiefdoms. There are also the problems with forming a senior leadership team that works together for the good of the entire organization. Therefore, in the new organization, there are only five chief officers that form the senior leadership team.

  • The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – chairs the senior leadership team and is responsible for keeping the organization aligned with the mission and vision by keeping the strategy engine working effectively.
  • The Chief Alliance Officer (CAO) – combines the traditional functions of the chief human resources officer and chief information officer. Responsible for managing the organizational talent and the organizational APIs platform.
  • The Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) – responsible for managing the knowledge and learning workflow of the organization. Also oversees the training and development of the organization’s talent.
  • The Chief Brand Officer (CBO) – responsible for overseeing the organization’s brand: internally and externally. Helps the CEO manage the public-facing side of the organization’s mission and vision.
  • The Chief P4 Officer (CPO) – Oversees the portfolios, programs, projects, and processes of the organization’s Business Engine.

In the middle of the model is the “Business Engine.” The Business Engine is where the work is done by the organization. Instead of a factory floor with fixed production lines, the Business Engine is a makerspace with both a physical presence and virtual presence. Work is performed by a network of project teams that are loosely organized into portfolios and programs. There are few fixed processes, and these processes will be heavily-automated using artificial technology systems using blockchain technologies and deep learning algorithms. The teams will use agile project management, human-centered design, and adaptive case management to manage the work.

Surrounding the Business Engine are four critical components. The most important component, of course, is the “Talent” box with the four types of employees. These types are based on the Alliance model of employer-employee agreements. At the bottom is the Organizational APIs Platform in which the core APIs that run the business infrastructure are available for the talent and teams to build their personalized tools and apps upon. Surrounding the Business Engine on both sides are open data streams that provide the performance metrics of the organization and allows for easy knowledge-sharing and collaboration in the organization. Embedded in the Business Engine are strategy information radiators (Ambient Strategy) that provide constantly-updated information on how well the organization is fulfilling the mission, vision, and strategic goals.

Pulling the organization forward is the “Strategy Engine.” On top of the Strategy Engine is the “Mission and Vision” alignment compass which helps the align all of the organization’s activities toward the mission, vision, and strategic goals. What powers the planning process for the Strategy Engine are the twin concepts of organizational agility and organizational health.

There is a lot of this model that is borrowed and a lot that is new. I don’t believe there is an organization that follows this model but, I believe many organizations could benefit from adopting parts of the model. I look forward to expanding upon the various parts of the new organizational model. I welcome your comments, criticisms, and suggestions.

Mar 16

From Hierarchies to Network of Teams

Deloitte just released its 2016 Human Capital Trends report and it is outstanding! What I especially like is the realization that organizational design is the top HR topic among executives and HR practitioners.

I have found similar results in my research on the new public organization model. Hierarchical models just can't meet the demands for organizational ability and organizational health. In my model, there are programs, projects, and processes. The programs and projects are handled by teams that constantly change and reform as the organization's strategies and needs change. This way, team members can rotate through program directors, project leads, and project team members.

As to processes, I envision a fusion of human workers and artificial intelligence agents. For the purely algorithmic portion of processes, I see a combination of AI agents and blockchain technology. For any exceptions to the processes, adaptive case management will be used to signal for human intervention and refinement of the process.

3d-jump-070615-15colThe best analogy is to think of the organization as a network of teams that work off an organizational IT/analytics platform to build new applications. The closest organizational design that I have seen to what I envision is a makerspace

Dec 15

Government Management in the Zone!

Even though I have not completely read Geoffrey Moore's latest book, Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption, I had to put it down and write a blog post about his brilliant insights. If you are not familiar with Moore's books, he is most famous for taking Roger's Diffusion of Innovations theory and turning it into business strategy. I read Moore's first book, Crossing the Chasm, when I was a Presidential Management Fellow at the Social Security Administration. Although, he was writing about private sector companies, I could see immediate parallels to government management back in the late 90s when the early Internet was revolutionizing how the Federal government operated.

Almost twenty years later, his latest book has also spurred my thinking on improving government management. Moore's Zone Management is simple: companies should divide up their organization's operations into four zones to best deal with disruptive change. The four zones are based on three investment horizons:
Horizon One – Return on investment (ROI) is realized in the first year.
Horizon Two – ROI is realized in two to three years.
Horizon Three – ROI is realized in three to five years.

The reason behind the horizons is to ensure that company is producing revenue today and in the future while containing the potentially damaging effects of disruptive change. A company does this by having four zones:
The Performance Zone – What the company currently does to generate revenue and sustain the company now.
The Productivity Zone – The enabling functions such as IT, HR, and finances that help keep the performance zone running at full efficiency.
The Incubation Zone – Placing small bets on potential disruptive ideas that could propel the company into the next phase of growth.
The Transformation Zone – Scaling up one of the disruptive ideas from the Incubation Zone to be ready to enter the Performance Zone.

As Moore advises, each zone needs to be managed differently with a different set of operational expectations and measures. Overlaid on the zones is a lightweight governance structure that helps guide each zone management system. The key is not to have a uniform method for governing all four zones because that will benefit only one-fourth of the company (for the short term) while mismanaging the other three zones. For example, expecting HR and IT (Productivity Zone) to generate profits like you would expect from the Performance Zone, can greatly diminish the Productivity Zone's ability to support the revenue generation of the Performance Zone. You may have a profitable HR function but if this leads to constant turnover, replacing employees will eat into the Performance Zone's profits.

How does this relate to government? Well, replace the Performance Zone with the Mission Zone. Then, redefine the Horizons as:
Horizon One – The agency's Mission Fulfillment Success (MFS) is realized in the first year and is at or near 100%.
Horizon Two – MFS is realized in two to three years at or near 100%.
Horizon Three – MFS is realized in three to five years at or near 100%.

Stated this way, the agency is constantly focused on achieving its mission now and in the future. The Productivity Zone is constantly refining supporting functions to support better the Mission Zone. Meanwhile, the agencies are using the Incubation Zone to forecast possible disruptions to the agencies' missions and develop solutions to meet the future challenges. Once an Incubation Zone idea has matured and proves promising, the agencies move the idea to the Transformation Zone to scale up the idea and prepare it to enter the Mission Zone when current Mission Zone activities have outlived their usefulness (the Dead Zone?).

What I especially like about Zone Management is that it may help with the current "Twilight Zone" that many agencies seem to find themselves. Twilight Zones occur when there is a mismatch between the zones because of not fitting the right management style, metrics, and outcomes to the right zone. Twilight Zones can also occur when zones are not cooperating with each other, or one zone tries to dominate the other zones. I've seen this happen when certain functions in the Productivity Zone (IT, HR, or Finance to name a few examples) attempt to dominate the other three zones. Zone Management is not a justification for building silos or protecting turf. Rather, the true value of Zone Management is appreciating how different parts of the organization can support each other while recognizing the unique needs of each zone. Good Zone Management is like managing a sports team; every player has their role but, it is the combined efforts that make the organization succeed.

Aug 15

The Eerie Power of Mental Models to Cloud Perception

One spring morning back in 2012, I was driving in College Park when I was pulled over by a University of Maryland campus policeman. I was not speeding so I did not know why I was stopped. The policeman explained that he stopped me because something fell off my front bumper. At the time, I did not understand what he meant and jumped out of the car because I thought my front bumper came off.

My front bumper was still attached which confused me more. The policeman explained that I did not have a license plate. Now, I had recently transferred my car registration from Kentucky to Maryland and attached the license plate to the back bumper that day. Actually, I received two license plates, so I put the second plate in the trunk. I thought I had received the second license plate as a mistake and didn’t think any more about it.

This is the power of mental models. Growing up in Kentucky, I had the mental model that license plates only were attached to the rear of vehicles. The few license plates that were on the front of the vehicle were vanity plates. Having once absorbed that mental model, I did not even think to question it or consider alternative mental models concerning license plates. Why should I?

This mental model was so powerful that I did not even notice – after four years of living in Maryland – that vehicles had license plates on both the front and rear bumpers. I probably observed front license plates, but I did not SEE front license plates. My mental model was so ingrained that I ignored the visual evidence that contradicted my proper-location-of-license-plates mental model.

Now, I notice front license plates. I told my friend Mike about this incident and helpfully points out front license plates for me when we are out driving. It is an annoying reminder on how mental models profoundly affect our perceptions of the world and can even blind us to contrary evidence. That is why it is vital in any change effort to understand the current mental models and then help people to realize their mental models before giving people new mental models.

What mental models affect how you perceive the world?