the man-organisation interface as an instrument to create beauty in #organisation design

People within an organisation interact not only with each other on a personal level, there is also interaction with the organisation as an institute as a formalised entity. It is the interaction with the processes and the systems: how people are hired, how items are procured, how people are rewarded, how hours are registered, how budgets are managed, how customers are serviced. The rules, the formalities, the it-systems, the forms, the hierarchy all are man-made instruments that people in- and outside the organisation are confronted with.

The organisation as a mechanistic concoction that is supposed to make it function better. The parameters steering the design of these functions are mostly efficiency, through-put, standardisation, control, predictability. All very applaudable objectives, as such.

But this utilitarian focus often results in systems and procedures that are difficult to interact with. The function and the objectives become dominant and people are supposed to adapt their ways of working and interacting. “The system is there for your own benefit” is the mantra. Whether this is a convincing argument for intense and satisfying use of the system, remains to be seen.

Anyway, in the case the dysfunctionality of the interaction is tackled, the most common fix is an increase in complexity. For example: a reward system gets more and more detailed and finer granulated because the basic system does not allow an interaction between managers and employees resulting in a remuneration that is considered fair. When the system does not allow natural and fair interaction, people will become really smart and begin to play the system and misuse it in order to let it meet their interest. So the system reacts and is modified with complicated controls and even more user unfriendly features. A downward spiral (or upward, if you are of the mechanical kind) is the result.

In man’s interaction with physical machines there is a growing attention to the design of man-machine interaction, with Apple products as one of the most celebrated examples. We can develop organisational systems that have an Apple like appeal: focussed on thought-out functions and humanised interaction.

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