Putting the Pieces Together
This is the last installment in the blog series on a new design paradigm of “Concordance.” My thesis is that the design of workPLACES for the future must include integrated socio-technical design elements. A rough analogy would be designing a biological system where the nervous, digestive, respiratory, and skeletal would need to be in concordance. I’ve addressed the details of these four major elements in previous posts on this site.
Now, I want to shift the focus from social processes to patterns of social organization. In each of the four design approaches, I’ve laid out what those authors felt were the orthogonal social factors. I began by suggesting those dimensions were, at its base, power, and status – fundamental social psychology. In my opinion, there is a generalized uniformity that underlies the various measurements used by these authors. They are:
Interaction: the ability to continually connect and relate to community members and customers. This corresponds to Goffee and Jones’ sociability, Mintzberg’s density, our idea of complexity, and Duffy’s own definition of interaction. It’s about the pattern of interactions among the community. They move from fragmented serial, process-based interactions to ones that are friendly, dense, and circle around an object, idea, or particular piece of work activity.
Freedom: Continuous conception and implementation of new ideas which provide added value for customers. Goffee and Jones called this ‘solidarity’; Mintzberg saw multiple channels of communication; we know this vector as creativity, and Frank Duffy calls it “autonomy .”This dimension is innovation, which creates new products for new markets. It goes from routine, pre-defined processes to the creative application of ideas to novel situations.
A point of clarity is needed here for those not familiar with the organizational design literature. Interaction is the pattern of density and reciprocity, and Freedom is characterized by rates of innovation, measures of creative ability, and cooperative challenge. Brevity prohibits an extended discussion of these social factors. I invite interested readers to contact me for additional discussion.
Now, if you group those four design approaches together with Interaction and Freedom dimensions, it looks like this.
So, for example, in a workplace with relatively low interaction and low Freedom, you have a fragmented culture, chained communication; process-oriented management; and a hive spatial structure.
e. On the other hand, a workplace with high interpersonal interaction and Freedom of action looks like a more communal model (hence communities of commerce) with networks of communication, emphasis on teams, and multi-functional structures in space and time.
My intent in writing these blogs has been to present a unified, integrated design perspective that brings together culture, communication patterns, methods of management, and physical patterns in time and space. Those patterns are outlined here. In a previous blog, I’ve called this new paradigm acutely needed in the US Healthcare system as the COVID pandemic has exposed critical system failure.
But where do you start? I have created a quick Check assessment tool to help designers at least get a focus on where they are beginning. Where does the current organization engage with lie on the dimensions of Interaction and Freedom? I am offering that checklist tool to any readers interested.
When tomorrow comes. It is here today. Take us out Annie and Dave