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Pim van Wetten

Van organisaties als machines naar Social Business Design

Getriggerd door de leestip van Pim van Wetten (https://kenniscafe.com/thoughts/32366) en Mark zijn observatie "mind blowing" me nog eens goed verdiept in "The Connected Company" van Dave Gray van de Dachis Group. Bij deze mijn samenvatting en enkele observaties.

Het stuk opent met een steeds vaker gequoot statement dat geschatte levensduur van grootste 500 S&P organisaties terugzakt van 75 jaar (80 jaar geleden) naar 15 jaar nu (het Deloitte center of the edge stelt zelfs: op weg naar 5 jaar). Volgens Dave Gray (de auteur) komt dit omdat organisaties onder hun eigen gewicht bezwijken vanwege de steeds afnemende productiviteit: "A recent analysis in the CYBEA Journal looked at profit-per-employee at 475 of the S&P 500, and the results were astounding: As you triple the number of employees, their productivity drops by half", wat de 3/2 wet wordt genoemd. Volgens Dave komt dit omdat veel managers blijkbaar nog in de jaren '90 zitten qua denken.

Want termen uit die tijd als "business re-engineering" lieten het al doorschemeren: het denken over organisaties was tot halverwege de jaren '90 vooral vanuit een mechanistisch perspectief, de organisatie als machine. En wat zijn kenmerken van een machine?

  1. It’s designed to be controlled by a driver or operator.
  2. It needs to be maintained, and when it breaks down, you fix it.
  3. A machine pretty much works in the same way for the life of the machine. Eventually, things change, or the machine wears out, and you need to build or buy a new machine.

En zie daar de mismatches met een organisatie als "levend organisme", wat als denken eind jaren '90 opkwam: "Companies are not so much machines as complex, dynamic, growing systems. (...) What happens if we think of it less like a machine and more like an organism? Or even better, what if we compared the company with other large, complex human systems, like, for example, the city?", want: "As companies add people, productivity shrinks. But as cities add people, productivity actually grows." En opeens gaat het stuk over "design" in plaats van "engineering".

Vervolgens verwijst Dave naar het beroemde boek van ex Shell topman de Geus naar Living Companies uit 1997 (toen de levensverwachting van top 500 S&P nog 40-50 jaar was!) waarin zij zochten naar overeenkomsten tussen organisaties die al eeuwen bestaan: ""Companies die because their managers focus on the economic activity of producing goods and services, and they forget that their organizations' true nature is that of a community of humans." He summarizes the components of the long-lived company as sensitivity to the environment, cohesion and identity, tolerance and decentralization, and conservative financing." waarmee prachtig het denken eind jaren '90 van de organisatie als levend organisme wordt geillustreerd.

Dave stelt dat we nu, in de middels social media connected samenleving, ook organisaties anders moeten bekijken: "Social Business Design". Dit is "a new discipline but some basic rules are already emerging. And these emerging rules have less in common with traditional business design and more in common with urban design and city planning. It’s not about design for control so much as design for emergence. You don’t control a complex system, but you can manage its growth. Here are a few of those emerging practices that signal excellence in design by connection:

  • Understand the culture: A company is like a city in many ways. First and foremost, a city is about the people who live and work there; it’s an expression of their collective culture. And before you can start your path to the connected company, you first need to understand the culture (or cultures) that are already there, so you can look for ways to enhance and strengthen that shared identity.
  • Start small. Urban designers might look at maps or aerial views as they make their plans, but the life of a city happens at street level. As you initiate social programs, think of them as if you are designing a city street. A successful street, first and foremost, is filled with people. The last thing you want is a whole bunch of large, urban areas with no people in them. So start small, because the smaller the space is initially, the faster it will fill up with people. A good way to start is with an organization-wide project or initiative that requires participation from a number of people across the company. This gives you a cross-section of ideas and perspectives to look at as you plan the next stage.
  • Spaces need owners. Again, think of the city street: every business or building has an owner. The sidewalks have owners – typically every business at street level “polices” their stretch of sidewalk. And even the street has owners – the street sweeper, the cop on the beat. In the same way, make sure that every online space you create has someone positioned to take care of it, to keep it safe and clean.
  • Every person needs a place. In the same way that public spaces need caretakers, every person needs a place to live; somewhere they can put their stuff. As you build your social business, make sure that every single person has a place where they can see their stuff: their projects, the links they want to get back to, the documents they have created, their role, qualifications, expertise and so on.
  • Jumping-off points. A good city street offers opportunities that are unanticipated but serendipitous. The promising side-street. The sound of music coming through an open door. As you design for connection, think about how you might create those unexpected, but delightful, surprises. Every time someone visits an online space, there’s an opportunity to offer them an opportunity to explore something new.
  • Watch, listen, adjust and adapt. Design by connection is not a top-down activity so much as bottom-up. Complex systems just don’t work that way. In a complex system, you need to pay attention to small things and make little adjustments along the way. Pay attention to the culture, and watch how people react to the tools you provide. Are they using something in a different way than you expected? Find out why and see if you can enhance that. And what are they ignoring? If they’re not using something you expected them to use, go talk to them and see if you can figure out the reason.

Deze punten vind ik een prachtige samenvatting van een designtheorie voor social business software, zoals ons eigen Winkwaves Kenniscafe bijvoorbeeld ;)

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