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This chapter is from the book

Aim for Adaptability

At the beginning of this chapter, I noted that no single structure is the definitive answer for all organizations. Not cross-functional teams, not matrix organizations, nor whatever. The most important thing to take away is that you need to work on the organizational ability to change. It should be OK for functional teams to morph into cross-functional ones and back. It should be OK for teams to spin off specialist teams, and then break them up again later when they have no need of them anymore. It should be OK for management to try the second design principle in some part of the organization, and then replace it again with DP1 if that didn't work out well. It is only natural that complex adaptive systems constantly revise and rearrange their building blocks as they gain experience. In organizations it is no different [Waldrop 1992:146].

Organizational adaptability calls for a minimum specification of organization. The less that is defined and frozen into formal charts, contracts, and procedures the better.

  • Applying a "barely sufficient" principle to your team's organizational design will afford it the flexibility and freedom to self-organize. At times, some managers have tended to go overboard in attempts to comprehensively define organizational elements such as roles, responsibilities, policies, and procedures. Instead, a holographic structure limits design to just the critical minimum specifications.15

You know you have achieved organizational adaptability when employees stop complaining about reorganizations and start suggesting new structural changes. Then you can simply enjoy watching the organization grow, and you will have achieved the purpose of the fifth view of Management 3.0.

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