ORGANIZATIONAL DESIGN PRINCIPLES (Part 1)

To foster a culture of freedom and responsibility, where people feel proud of what they do by fully understanding their business instead of simply setting up and following rules and regulations, an enhancive and tropophilic non-dominant hierarchy must be in place.

Literature advocating a variety of organizational designs such as “Flat”, “Horizontal,””Matrix,” “Poised,” “Fractal,””Chaordic,” etc., abounds (Argyris, 1955; Resnick and Patti, 1980; Wynn, 1995). However, all these “(re)designs” are nothing but fiddling around the edges of the phenotype of a dominant hierarchy, namely, bureaucracy.

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The work of Lippitt and White (in late 1930’s and early 40’s) and that of Fred Emery (1945–1997) demonstrated that all human organizations make a conscious or unconscious choice between two, and only TWO genotypic and fundamentally different organizational designs:

1) DP1-Bureaucratic (i.e. behaviour-restricting dominant hierarchy)

2) DP2-Participative Democratic (i.e., behaviour-enhancing non-dominant hierarchy)

There is also the choice of Laisser faire, which some believe to be a midpoint between bureaucracy and participative democracy, but it is not! Laisse faire is a non-structure thus not a valid alternative.

Although this clear-cut dichotomy between bureaucratic and participative democratic organizations is very evident in theory, in reality can be much more subtle. However, when we look at redundancy, which is essential for the survival of any structure, the difference between DP1 and DP2 is clear.

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Further, Emery and Trist (1965) in their seminal work The Causal Textures of Organizational Environments demonstrated that there are at least four types of such environments:

  • I Random Placid
  • II Clustered Placid
  • III Disturbed Reactive
  • IV Turbulent

They recognized our current Turbulent (Type IV) Environment as emergent back in 1962 (Emery & Trist, 1965) when companies like IBM first realized about the “rigidity” of bureaucratic structures and their inability to maneuver in a changing environment.

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