the balancing act of balance in #organisationdesign

Well balanced. A sophisticated trade-off between countervailing forces. An equilibrium of two or more opposing elements. When things that are worthwhile, but do not match automatically, we can look for solutions that minimises the conflict, but leave the qualities intact. Balance does not reduce the quality of one of the objects, but emphasises the differences in an intelligent, non confrontational way.

In organisation design balance is often applied, an attractive, although often difficult to achieve, solution. The balance between a clear common vision and the individual preferences. The balance between specialisation and collaboration. The balance between short and long-term. The balance between a product and customer focus. The balance between the individual ambition and collective team effort.

And indeed, when we strike the balance, there is all the reason to enjoy it. But balance is a tricky thing. Sometimes the balance, although clever, gives a feeling of instability. The balance becomes superficial. Balance for the sake of balance, for the sake of not having to choose. And as a result we have to put a lot of effort in maintenance of that balance. The balances proofs to be intrinsically unstable. All the effort to establish the balance seems to be in vain. It just doesn’t work.

So the beauty of balance is not as obvious as it seems. Sometimes balance is not the best way forward,  sometimes there is a need for choice. Bad balance is ugly. In organisational design and in architectural design. The line between good and bad balance is thin.

The balanced barn, designed by MVRDV makes that very tangible.

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It is an intriguing building, that makes us aware that balance is not straightforward.

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