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

Feb 16

The Constructal Law in Organizational Design

feature-constructal-law-physicsA key component to my new theory on public administration and my new organizational design is the Constructual Law. First proposed back in 1996 by Adrian Bejan, the Constructal Law states:

"For a finite-size system to persist in time (to live), it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to the imposed currents that flow through it"

The Constructual Law is a physics law and refers to natural systems. However, if one defines the imposed currents as data, information, and knowledge, then you can see the application to organizations. Especially in the communication channels for data, information, and knowledge.  The tricky part is that the organization's environment changes over time and thus, the organization's internal configuration of flows needs to evolve to optimize access for data, information, and knowledge.

The organization's internal configuration will evolve according to the dictates of the Constructual Law. Making this directed evolution rather than unguided evolution is the great insight offered by the Constructual Law to organizational theory.

Jan 16

Are Enterprise-Focused Mobile Apps the Key to Improving Citizen Satisfaction with Federal Agencies?

Two interesting reports out recently. The first is from the IBM Center for the Business of Government and reports on the use of mobile apps in the Federal, state, and local governments. The second report is the 2015 American Customer Satisfaction Index report for the Federal government.  Highlights from both reports:

  1. Since the 2012 Digital Government Strategy, the Federal government has built nearly 300 citizen-oriented mobile apps. In contrast, only 20 enterprise-focused mobile apps have been built. Citizen-oriented mobile apps, as the name suggests, are built to provide government information and services to American citizens. Enterprise-focused mobile apps are used by the agency's employees to increase internal knowledge sharing and collaboration.
  2. For the third year in the row, customer satisfaction with the Federal government has declined. In fact, the rating of 63.9 is the lowest rating for the last nine years.
  3. There were one or two point gains in satisfaction with government processes (68 to 69), information (69 to 71), and customer service (75 to 76) from 2014 to 2015. Website satisfaction was static at 72.

I just finished writing an article for the PA Times where I argued that agencies should increase their building of enterprise-focused (EF) mobile apps. There is not the immediate payoff of a citizen-oriented (CO) mobile app. However, building EF mobile apps will compel agencies to improve their internal business processes, increase collaboration among agency employees, and enhance the ability of agencies to create IT applications. These are long-term benefits that may help raise and sustain better customer satisfaction scores in the future.

Jan 16

Why Collaboration is the Heart of the New Organizational Model

Some great feedback on my recent blog posting about merging HR and IT. As I mentioned in my posting, this is part of my overall organization model where I advocate a smaller number of chief officers acting together as a lean management team.

That thinking was inspired by this Harvard Business Review article - When Senior Managers will not Collaborate. According to the research in the article, when professionals collaborate, there is more revenue for the firm and more satisfied customers with better products and services. This is a finding that has been demonstrated in other studies. So, why don’t organizations encourage collaboration?

It is the current prevailing organizational structure that rewards individual achievement over contributing to a team. Stars are valued over a high-performing team (despite the recent quest to create more high-performing teams). The great leader mental model is deeply ingrained in the Western culture and management theory. This is why there is such a proliferation of chief whatever officers whenever organizations face a new challenge such as increasing diversity, effectively using big data, or building an employer brand.

Collaboration is essential, but it is not a natural skill for everyone. Collaboration takes training, willingness to fail, and perseverance. The organizational design has to have trust built into its processes, and there needs to be plenty of feedback to keep collaboration going. This will be a hard process at the beginning but, as the evidence shows, the payoffs are well worth the effort.

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?

Feb 15

Exploring How to Use Personal Projects Analysis and Coordinated Management of Meaning to Engage Government Employees

I just recently finished Dr. Little’s Me, Myself and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-being which describes his work in personal project analysis. I find Dr. Little’s theory that personality is shaped by the personal projects we pursue. Personal projects can be anything from “lose 20 pounds” to “providing for my parents in their final years of life.” It is a more dynamic view of personality where people take an active part in developing personality traits. This is in contrast to being locked into personality traits such as their Myers-Briggs Type.

As Dr. Little found in his research, people are chiefly motivated by their personal projects. Personal projects are not just limited to a person’s home life but influence all aspects of his or her life. It would seem that the more a person’s work is aligned with a person’s personal project, the more engaged a person would be in their work.

When I was a Presidential Management Fellow, I went through a Myers-Briggs analysis and was categorized as an ENTJ. Recently, I went through another Myers-Briggs and found that I was now an INTJ. Apparently, I seem to switch between being introverted and extroverted. Personally, I never consider being introverted or extroverted to be a fixed trait; I was whatever I thought would help in achieving a goal.

This is why I am currently studying how to apply Personal Project Analysis in determining what engages workers and how to align their work with personal projects. I am also interested in how to combine Personal Project Analysis with the Coordinated Management of Meaning communication theory. It is true that employee engagement rests with the employee, but government managers can use the tools of Personal Project Analysis and the Coordinated Management of Meaning to understand the motivations of government employees better.

Feb 15

Conway's Law and Government Services

Just finished reading Building Microservices by Sam Newman which describes how to build small, single-purpose online applications that can be combined into larger, more-complex software. The idea behind microservices is to break apart monolithic applications in favor of building more agile and robust applications through small, loosely-coupled components.

Mr. Newman describes the philosophical rationale for microservices by discussing Conway's Law.

"Any organization that designs a system will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure."

This chapter led me to think about how the government agency's communication structure affects the design of government services. Especially in how the government service is communicated to clients and among the street-level bureaucrats who implement the services. I did a quick search and I didn't find any research on applying Conway's Law to government organizations. This appears to be a fruitful area for research.


Jan 14

Why Networks Will Outperform Hierarchies

Excellent article in Globoforce's blog on the value of organizational networks:

"Networks are safer because they have built in redundancies. They increase the flow of information. They speed communication. They connect larger groups that otherwise might remain siloed. They homogenize culture. They increase diversity of perspective and experience. They encourage innovation. They provide resilience in the event of trauma. And most critically, they protect against the failure or loss of an important connection point, such as a poor manager or the departure of an influential colleague."

What especially interests me is reconciling Constructal Law and the hierarchical tendency of complex adaptive systems with the advantages of networks. I think a key here is the tension between the optimum flow of information through the system versus the ability for agile reconfiguration to create new information flows.