Design for Viability

Sampling of Organizational Design Principles for the Viable Organization*


The structure of the organization—how the components and functions interrelate with each other and its larger energy providing systems—should follow naturally from the beliefs, values and purposefulness of the system. If the intent is progress then:

  • Sustain integrity of the Vision-Mission-Strategy relationship through interplay of insight and foresight
    • This is not a three-leg stool implying separate but related parts
    • Vision is a causal part of all; Mission is a causal part of Strategy
    • Power to endure emerges from this integral relationship and dis-integration is inevitable otherwise—so sustain it.
  • Create the space for capability through people-enabling design
    • Facilitate power to, not power over
    • Support pursuit of capability, not control
  • Synergize through interplay of S-P-C relationships
    • Integrate with reciprocal interdependence through interpenetrating structural design—linear networks of people and functions won’t sustain viability
    • The difference between one organization’s ability to sustain viability and that of another does not primarily lie in the differences in the intelligence or skills of each of its members, but
      • in the depth and strength of relationships among the members and
      • in a system of work (including management) that integrates the diverse many into a unified one
  • Maintain the integrity of The Work
    • The very nature or theory of the work must inform the structure

    *(From a book in development, The business of business: Rethinking the why and how of business to get us to the next century)