the concept of continuous scale in #organisation design: both the details and the big context matter, and everything in between

In organizations just like in other designed artifacts, there is a level of the overall picture and the wider context, of the big ideas and great shapes. The elements that are drawn with big strokes and thick crayons. It is the level that sets the pace. It is about the big structures and the basic granularity. It is about the scale of  the big ideas about how the artifact and the organisation interacts with its environment (closed, open, direct, indirect, leading, following, static, dynamic). On this level the  believes and values are articulated and  translated in principle guidelines about structure and interaction.

At the same time there is the enormous importance of the detail. The details that can break or enhance the big lines. The details that on their own scale embody meaning. The level of detail in the labour contracts, the size of teams, the level of autonomy, the way meetings are held, the manner decisions are made, the involvement of co-workers in the hiring process, the food in the cafeteria, all these elements tell their story and add up the big picture.

There always is a relationship between the grand scale and the small-scale. Whether that relationship is balanced and whether the scales positively interact, is one of the important issues of great design. And to make matters even more complex there are numerous levels in between the overall picture and the detailed view. Detailed elements form another elements on a different scale and level, intentionally or incidentally.

Switching between the various scales and leveraging the interaction of scale is an interesting and rewarding exercise and is an integral and even essential part of design. Scale is not absolute, scale is relative. Big things are small and small can be very big. Organisation that do not embody that playfulness, become predictive and boring. Great design maneuvers through all the levels of scale in a meaningful way.





the paradox of scale!


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