Organisations do not exist in a vacuum. Organisations always exist in their environment and distinguish themselves from the environment.Without a perimeter there is no organisation. Without a boundary, an organisation merge into the environment and stops to exist. Organisations exist because of a border between what is the organisation and what is not.
The reality of the organisational border becomes, in various dimensions, less obvious. The border gets less recognisable. Organisation in a business environment see more and more outsourcing, must tap into new sources of specialisation and make part of disrupted value chains and innovative product catagories. Exchanges between people are becoming faster, more diverse, mobile and ubiquitously accessible, making structures of exchange less geographically and socially determined.
Thinking about an organisation and shaping its form, is thinking about the border. The perimeter touches the essence of an organisation. And although the internal structure, interaction and dynamic is of great importance, the border defines the organisation in its existence. And that border – the shape, the transparency, the permeability, the surface, the color – defines what the organisation is in the real world and thus provides a sense of the purpose of the organisation.
And the border with its increased complexity and its meaning of the existence of the organisation, makes it a source for innovation in designing and building organisations. Not only in the very practical sense of image, customer relationship, communication and internal organisation, but also in a strategic and conceptual way.
For myself one of the great sources for inspiration when in comes to borders and their meaning, is the work of the Italian artist Guiseppe Penone. His relentless inquiry in the meaning of border and the way he materialises this thought, is unique and both of a very mindful and magically intriguing creativity.