Monthly Archives: February 2012

Imagine an organisation as a set of entities or functions that in their smallest unit add a value to the output and existence of that organisation.

Grouping these essential functions in an organisational structure (formally or less formally) is one of the things management and leadership do.

The choices made influence how the organisation is perceived, even if the basic functional entities remain unchanged (which is often the case in organisational changes).

Drawing the lines is not without meaning and that is something to remember when involved in organisation design.


Organisations may, due to environmental conditions, not have the perfect boundary and have what could be viewed as an anomaly. The loose end of an organisation. The space that does not fit in a neat design.

The non-standard border needed as an interface with a special supplier.
The space that would make a natural fit, but that is occupied by a competitor
An essential node of knowledge that does not fit in the streamlined process.
A long standing commitment to provide support in a area that proves to be more of an appendix, than an integral part of the whole.

Examples of loose ends.
Anomalies or sources for innovation? To be smoothed out or cherished?


Architects have played with the idea since a long time: using the orientation of  similar elements to create various spacial experiences.

Could we apply this concept to organisation design?

It would start with a deeper awareness of the effect of organisational building blocks such as HRM systems, meetings, innovation processes, customer interaction set-ups, etc, etc. Then we could orient them to the intended experience.


The inside of an organisation does influence the external interaction, which in the end is the raison d’être of any organisation.

Misallignment of internal and external objectives, structures and processes, will fundamentally endanger the very existence of an organisation in the long run.

Although not put in such words like the above, a lot of people in organisation will recognise the struggle and the frustration of a mismatch between the inside and the outside.


It are the people that build an organisation and interact directly and indirectly with the environment, so the organisational framing of the individual does matter. Framed in the sense that what you are, what you think you are  or what you are perceived to be, is partly (or more than partly) defined by the organisation you belong to.

Can a person afford to be unframed of the organisation he or she belongs to? Is there a price to pay?

And is it even possible to be part of an organisation and not to be framed by it?

We can come up with new answers for these tricky questions in organisation design.

Unless you want to create separate entities, dissection of blood groups does not change the shape of the organisation. Not its interaction, nor its meaning.

Ii is a view on organisations with the consequence that internal structure does not matter for the outside.

All efforts to break up an organisation in various parts (along functions, products, locations, customers) have little effect to the outside world, unless it affects the shape and the characteristics of the border.

A paradox in organisational design thinking and it highlights the question about what defines an organisation.