This blog is the third in a series examining a new metatheory of the design of the workplace. More specifically, I am concerned about healthcare delivery workspaces’ design (and operation). You can review my opening thoughts for more detail on my motivation. https://media.awakeningtowholeness.net/health-care-design/. The last blog was about work culture. Now I turn to how the work process gets managed.
When I first began to investigate the forms of workgroups, I found two fundamental factors: the foundation of how people organize themselves to get work done. First, there is how the complexity of the task at hand. Secondly, the amount of creativity is needed to make the work product effective and efficient. Not surprisingly, these two factors combine to focus managers’ attention. It answers the question of ‘what’s important around here.’
Integrating these two dimensions gives you four basic building blocks of arranging resources. The matrix now looks like this:
High complexity and Low creativity is your typical project management environment with set procedures that must be executed with a high degree of interdependency. For example, Federal Express, where the timing of everything coming into the hub is paramount, but each delivery is within itself a relatively routine affair.
Low creativity and Low complexity are where management focuses its’ attention on getting the process right, eliminating waste in execution, and following a rigid set of procedures. Call centers with scripts for customer problem resolution are an example. And it isn’t surprising that today this form of work organization is the prime target for automation using artificial intelligence and cognitive automation-such as ‘chatbots.’
High creativity, Low complexity is the relative isolation of deep domain experts working on various parts of a larger project, such as technical writers, lawyers, and professors. In today’s world spurred on by the pandemic, this type of work organization now accounts for one-half of all knowledge-based work. https://media.awakeningtowholeness.net/where-oh-where-will-i-work-now/
High on creativity and High complexity are team-based environments and have a have flavor of true collaboration. They create on the fly, and interaction is often very intense and complex. I’ll have more to say about later as THE emergent form of work organization because it can be enabled with technology that is only now coming onto the scene. Think ‘cloud platforms.’
So, where does all this fit into a design paradigm? There is an old saying in architecture that form follows function. What we are talking about here (management focus of attention) can be taken as the function. That, in turn, leads to the most appropriate FORM. And after all, we began this discussion about the reformation of the workplace.
The next fortnight’s issue of this blog will look at patterns of communication within a culture and focus of management.
Some days it just feels like you are inside a pinball machine. Take us out Sir Elton
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