Organisation by Design
Or: design thinking in putting together an organisation
The term design thinking has been mis//used and under//stood by many of us amateur authors of columns. I might as well have a go at it too ?.
The basic principle of design thinking is that you order your work towards a solution, preferably an elegant one. Elegance for an engineer is functional, and an engineer will delight in a fully functional solution with maximum result and minimal effort, cost, material waste and unnecessary curls or bling. So for an engineer:
This : is a lot more elegant than : this Phillip Starck design classic.
Well, I cannot speak for all engineers but to me it is no contest.
How then do you apply this central principle to designing your organisation? Today every organisation is clamouring to fill the empty spaces and consulting is another word for recruiting. Like everything that will change again with the tides. What we should be taking into account is what do you really need to have. If we all fight over the top scoring BYMs (Bright Young Men, ladies: this is not discrimination, it is a type and perfect in every way) then we loose sight of the fact that you only need a few BYMs and a lot of water bearers to make a successful team. The better class of BYM knows he needs the water bearers and the other way around. A group of perfect individuals need no-one else to be great so they do not bond nor do they work as a team. It is like a pile of perfect round marbles: no cohesion and thus no structure.
This beats a bunch of these:
So the elegant solution would suggest finding the candidate that fills the requirements and excels at one or two things to make the difference. If you balance out the strong and weak points across the team you create the cohesion that comes with needing each other and the rare moment of brilliance, that make the difference. Thus we find engineering elegance: minimum effort, maximum effect. But wait: there is a caveat: it takes effort to define the roles your team members can play and those that need to be filled and the precision of communication to make this clear to candidates. When was the last time we saw and advert that said:
‘We need an engineer who really can do static strength calculation on steel construction. We don’t care if he/she is a bit scruffy, we can live with bad spelling and zero presentation skills, but we do need kick ass CAD skills and experience in fixing the coffee machine’.