Boston Marathon

Well a couple of days ago I got my Boston Marathon bib number. The training to run for it is taking all the time I might otherwise be devoting to getting this website up and running more effectively. The lesson is on trade-offs. Which is going to reap the most value in the short and long term as an investment? The same trade off applies in organization design work – are we designing for the short term or with an eye to the future? The common way is to do both – the difficulty then lies in doing both well. That's where I like concepts of 'good enough'.

Global nimbleness

Tomorrow I'm speaking at a conference on the relationship between globalization and nimble design of organizations. It's been difficult getting a slant on this as it's raised a number of questions in my mind. For example, are there specifics about responding to globalization that make for different 'nimbleness' design requirements than from non globalization? Isn't every organization actually responding to globalization even if it operates in its home markets only?

The Social Life of Information

At long last I'm reading The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. It's been out for several years now (since 2000) but is packed with nuggets of good sense and sharp observation on the interactions, and lack of them, between information, knowledge, technology and social fabric. Some of the standouts I highlighted. 'Work is rarely well understood', 'You can't redesign process effectively if you don't understand practice', 'all organizations have to balance routine and improvisation. It was written pre Facebook's huge growth and I wonder whether the authors would have (or will) write on that type of phenomenon. Take a look at John Seely Brown's website.

Business models and designers

I'm starting to think about the curriculum for the 'Business Models and Stakeholders' course that I'm going to lead on the new CCA Design Strategy MBA. My module does not run until spring 2009 so there's planning time available. I'm thinking of having one session on the business models architectural firms use. On the basis that they are also designers. Philips might be another good business model to look at as they have a whole strategy around design of their products. It would be interesting to see if design, and design related companies have distinctive business models, and whether they approach their stakeholders in an identifiable way that's different from non-design oriented organizations.

Pancreatic cancer

It's an odd series of coincidences that yesterday I spoke with a friend, Emily, whose beloved singing teacher aged 80 died earlier this week of pancreatic cancer. Emily's response to this is to plan take up singing again – a passion that she's let lie fallow for several years. I then turned on a video someone had sent me on Randy Rausch and discovered that he too has pancreatic cancer, and is living life to the fullest while he can. Just now, I got an email from another friend which told me her aunt has pancreatic cancer. Paula's now with her aunt arranging medical care in a situation where. "There are NO skilled beds at any price in the town where she lives". Out of curiosity I looked on the web to find out if the incidence of pancreatic cancer is increasing and came across the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and lo and behold, March 9 – 11 is pancreatic cancer advocacy weekend.

The stretch to an organization design slant on this might be a bit much but certainly there's a connection between having a change thrust upon one and doing something positive (with a resilient, resourceful, and adaptive mindset) to make the best of the situation.

Organizations that develop these types of cultural attributes are front runners e.g. Philips, IBM, GE.

Making change stick

At a client dinner last week someone asked me how he could 'make change stick'. I gave him a few answers like making sure all the organization elements were aligned and supporting the change, and that there were carrots and sticks in place. Then I started to think more about the question. Now it seems a tautology. Change cannot stick because it is changing. If change 'sticks' then it's not change. I think what he meant was how can he make sure that the organization doesn't revert to a previous state (though it wouldn't be exactly the same). I guess my more thought through answer would be by designing the organization so that change doesn't stick. To design in characteristics that keep it constantly alert, responsive, and adaptable – much more of the organic design approach than the mechanistic systems approach.