What Lies Between
Last week I wrote about boxes and how the organization charts that contain them can have so little effect on organizational culture or performance. My colleague Arthur Webb wrote a comment musing on how a CEO might graph a set of relationships with no boxes. Great question. Let’s ponder it this week.
I believe the challenge of portraying an organization applies broadly to any situation where the value lies in the purposeful engagements of elements. Effective collaboration would seem to fall into that category. You can show interactions and transactions among groups. How do you show a creation that neither department could achieve by itself?
The arrows typically used do not help much. They simply say that things go in both directions. I would start with the results to be achieved by interaction. I see many org charts that have three areas with names like “program operations”, “evaluation/data” and “innovation and learning”.
How can they not only support each other but create together? Program operations, for example, can:
–test and scale the models that innovation finds promising
–reflect the changes made from learning that increase results
–imbed evaluation within programs such that it useful in real time by participants and those who work with them
–provide evidence for success using program tracking data
And the value goes in two directions. Innovation needs a receptive environment to try new approaches before judging them. Evaluation needs a home if it is to be integrated into programs rather than tacked on at the end of a program.
All of this said, the question of maps, graphs, and other visual representations remains. One answer is to blow out the space between boxes and fill it with shared results rather than more elements. Another starting point came to me as I thought about Arthur’s comment. This is the image of export and import. Each center exports to other domains and imports from them. If we could figure out how to move from lists to what happens when imports and exports meet or even collide, we just might have something. I yearn for an ability to map synergy.
Can you visualize these or other approaches to what lies between the departments or units? If so, would love to hear from you and will include your thoughts in a future blog.