In a connected world the force of aligned purpose may be stronger than the boundaries of an organisation. The line drawn by management, supported by formal rules, becomes artificial and may even proof to be counter effective to what is meant do be achieved by that delineation.
This counts for internal boundaries where informal networks are more effective than the organisation chart. It also counts for external boundaries where customers resent the way an organisation shuts them off and come up with new ways to pursue their objectives. When companies hold on to obsolete business models, customers will circumvent them.
Is the organisation defined by the aligned purpose of the people that make part of that organisation in relationship to the outside world. In other words the boundary is defined by what aligns to the common purpose and what does not.
The boundary of the alignment can be explicit and formal,but also pure mental and intangible.
By looking in this way at organisation we might come up with whole new ways to actually design an organisation and what is needed to support and enable that joint purpose.
What is the meaning of the metaphor ‘a bridge closes the gap between the organisation and the other side’ ?
As the simplest metaphor it might do and be effective.
To act upon when designing great transactional borders it is predictable and conceptually meager and one-dimensional.
Drawings about the boundaries of organisatiosn, have a conceptual and metaphoric dimension. The drawings are an abstract representation of a specific aspects of what defines an organisation for the outside world.
The door as a representation of an organisation opener or closer, brings all kind of associations and questions to mind. (What is the meaning of the thick black line?)
That is the quality of the door.
Boundaries of organisation are about the organizations themselves. Providing just a keyhole for interaction is quite something. It might not be the big opening up, but it requires a certain minimal closeness to get a picture (from both sides) and that might be exciting.
Or is it a closed shop metaphor?
When people are confronted with border elements, like signs, people, objects, ideas, behaviour, they might just experience that item, without grabbing the whole organisation that the element makes part of.
In other cases the confrontation provides enough clues, richness and focus to get a glimpse of the whole organisation, or even more.
Sometimes we just see the border and sometime we can see the whole organisation and what it stands for. The latter is the most difficult to achieve as an organisation and it requires a deep understanding of the minds in the outside world as well a clear and workable picture of the own intentions and capabilities. It is a kind of wholly grail for brand managers and holistic thinkers.
Although this complete picture might be worthwhile aiming for, I believe that in reality of the information overload of parts and wholes, a high quality single element with consistent meaning (that may just represent part of the organisation) can be even more powerful.
To a large extend that what makes the border of an organisation real is in our heads. Although there are real fysical elements of a border, often carrying all kinds of messages, the meaning of the border and how people choose to behave is also determined by conventions and people’s own interpretation.
The border as a mind game.