Six models of Organisation


The following is sourced from Imaginization:

(An excerpt from Imaginization: The Art of Creative Management )

Model 1 is the classical bureaucracy, carefully blueprinted into functional departments, run from the top by the chief executive through various structures, rules, regulations, job descriptions and controls. It is designed to work like a machine, and operates very efficiently – so long as nothing changes!

Bureaucracies, like machines, operate well when there are stable functions to be performed, especially when they can be broken down into a series of separate operations coordinated from the top. But when an organization’s tasks keep changing, it’s a different story. The changes create a host of problems that no one is mandated to solve.

The problems thus work their way up the hierarchy, and eventually fall on the chief-executive’s desk. He or she soon gets overloaded, and initiates a shift to Model 2 by appointing a top management team. Collectively, they now deal with the problems, leaving the bureaucratic machine below (ie. the functional departments) to continue with the routine work.

Model 2 works reasonably well for dealing with moderate amounts of change. But if the pace heats up, the top team gets overloaded, with a host of operational and strategic decisions demanding attention at team meetings. Gradually, or as a result of a specific organizational redesign, Model 2 thus gets pushed towards Model 3. Interdepartmental committees or project-teams are established within the body of the organization itself. The idea is that routine work will still be conducted through departmental hierarchies, with special problems or projects being delegated to the project-teams for investigation and the development of appropriate action plans.

This initiative, often heralded as a move to a “project organization,” makes life bearable at the top again, since a lot of work can now be delegated. But because the teams are set within the context of a bureaucratic structure, they often fail to take off. There are a lot of projects and a lot of meetings. But there are also a lot of spinning wheels. The team meetings, as in Stereotype, become ritualistic. Team members are usually representatives of their departments. As such, they have dual loyalties – to their departmental bosses, and to their team. But since real power over day-to-day activities and career progress rests with the departmental heads, the teams themselves do not develop any real clout. Members usually “sit in” on team department’s point of view. If problems arise in the meeting, decisions are usually delayed until representatives have had a chance to “report back” and test departmental reactions. If the issue is truly controversial, it ends up getting passed to the top team, so that departmental heads can resolve it for themselves.

Model 3 is thus an organization characterized by pseudo teams that are only capable of dealing with relatively minor issues. In effect, Model 2 still rules.

All three of these models are evident in Stereotype, which, in effect has shifted through Models 1, 2 and 3. It has many of the problems described above. The powerlessness and cynical culture that has developed in the project teams is generic – shared by countless other organizations caught in the same bureaucratic trap. The structure of the organization has changed, but the culture and politics are still firmly set in the old mould.

Organizations can often make successful transitions from Models 1 or 2, to Model 3. But Model 3 is only effective when the issues delegated to the teams are small in number, require consultation rather than action, and allow generous time-frames for producing results. We are back to the contingency view of organization and management discussed in relation to Stereotype. To be effective, organizations need to structure themselves through models that are appropriate for dealing with the external challenges being faced. If the quest, as in Stereotype, is to create an organizational structure that is driven and enlivened from the middle by flexible, aggressive, innovative teams, the results of Model 3 are almost always disappointing.

In my research I encounter frustrated “Model 3″ organizations time and again. Like Stereotype, they think or hope that they’re unleashing the potential of a dynamic team-based approach to work, but in effect, they are usually just involving middle managers in time-consuming processes of interdepartmental consultation. Dynamism and team-based energy in the middle is only created against the odds, by groups of managers who are so committed to their team’s overall goals that they take great personal risks to advance their cause.

To achieve the flexible, innovative, committed organization that is needed to deal with the turbulence and change found in the modern environment, organizations have to get beyond Model 3. This is where Models 4, 5 and 6, come in, especially Models 5 and 6.

Model 4, the matrix organization, is a hybrid bureaucratic form. It’s special character rests in the fact that it has decided to give more or less equal priority to functional departments such as finance, administration, marketing, sales, production, and R & D, (the columns of the matrix) and to various business or product areas (the rows). Thus people working in various product or business teams within the organization have a dual focus. They must work with two perspectives in mind, combining functional skills and resources with an orientation driven by the key tasks they have been assigned. The dual orientation means that bureaucratic power typical of Models 1, 2 and 3 is diluted, since the heads of major projects, or groups of projects can be as important and as powerful as heads of traditional functional departments. In this way, members of project-teams are not necessarily pulled back into the traditional lines of responsibility. Since project heads may have a large influence on rewards and future career paths, real team commitment can develop. In successful examples of Model 4, the project-teams become the driving force behind innovation, providing an ability for the organization to change and adapt along with challenges emerging from the environment.

The same is true of Model 5. This model, typical of small and medium-sized organizations that are highly innovative, is built around teams. The influence of functional departments is minimized. People are appointed to work on specific projects. One or two projects may command most of a person’s energy at a particular time, but he or she may also be contributing to others. As the work on one project-team winds down, commitments on other teams increase. Career progress in this type of organization rests in moving from one project to another.

This kind of organization is ideally suited for dealing with the challenges of rapid change. Unlike the matrix of Model 4, it does not have a heavy functional structure to carry along. It’s focus is teamwork, innovation, and successful initiatives, completed in a profitable, timely fashion. Functional departments, insofar as they exist, are support departments, committed to enhancing the work of the teams, who are their clients. The whole operation is controlled by the management team at the centre. It focuses on strategic thrust, defining operational parameters, marshalling and channelling resources, monitoring results, and facilitating the general management of the system as a whole. The teams may be managed through “umbilical cords” characteristic of the spider plant model discussed in Chapter 2.

The organization is much more like a fluid network of interaction than a bureaucratic structure. The teams are powerful, exciting and dynamic entities. There is frequent cross-fertilization of ideas, and a regular exchange of information, especially between team leaders and the senior management group. Much effort is devoted to creating shared appreciations and understandings of the nature of the organization and its mission, but always within a context that encourages an open, evolving, learning-oriented approach to business. The organization is constantly trying to find and create the new initiatives, ideas, systems and processes that will contribute to its success. It is a kind of adhocracy, finding and developing its form as it goes along.

This is the kind of organization that Stereotype, at least in part, may need to become to meet the challenge of its local environment. Unfortunately, it is stuck inappropriately in Model 3.

Model 6 provides another example of an organizational style ideal for conditions requiring flexibility, innovation and change. In a way it’s a non-organization in the sense that it does not exist as a physical entity. It’s a subcontracting network where the team at the centre steers the whole enterprise.

Take the fashion industry, where Model 6 networks flourish as ideal means of dealing with the rapid pace of change. The team at the centre of the network has come together to exploit a market niche. Rather than build “an organization,” it decides to subcontract almost everything: detailed design, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, communications. The “satellites” are the subcontracting firms. They are linked to the centre through specific contracts which come and go. Membership of the network is in constant flux. The team at the centre is the only point of continuity. It directs strategy, tactics, and resource flows, keeping lean, minimizing overhead, operating with maximum flexibility. No planning department. No MIS. No HRD department. Everything contracted out, even routine finance! It often operates on “spider plant principles,” discussed in Chapter 2.

These six templates, which I have presented as simplified models of a total organization, often exist in mixed forms. They provide an evocative means of helping members of an organization see which model or models they are currently employing, and can help them judge what’s possible or ideal in terms of organizing for flexibility and innovation.

To illustrate, consider their application to Stereotype. The models provide a powerful way of helping Stereotype’s Management Team understand why the project-teams in its Model 3 organization are not “cutting loose” and being truly innovative. They can help them to understand “The Gulf” that often arises between the top and middle levels of an organization from a new perspective, and to see that if they truly want to create a more flexible, innovative organization perhaps they should be thinking about Models 4, 5, and 6 rather than just pushing for more team training within a Model 3 structure. For example, they could find a way of shifting closer to Model 4 by elevating the priority of key projects, and changing the composition and orientation of the Management Team to reflect this. Or they could choose to launch Model 5 or Model 6 initiatives in special areas of the organization, or for special projects, as illustrated above. In doing so, they may be able to introduce a new potential for entrepreneurship and innovation in specific pockets of the organization, while still meeting the constraints set by HQ. An awareness of the six models, and an ability to see and name precisely what is wrong with the current situation, could provide a powerful lever for change.

Used and interpreted flexibly, I find that these rough and ready templates can have a powerful effect. They can provide the all-important “mirror” that allows people to see where their organization is, and where it could be.

A insightful observation on communicating with technology, or “What’s better than texting”?


Text-speak came into existence in December 1992.  It was a quick way of typing SMS messages on mobile phones, back in the days when it was slow and laborious, having to bash away at the keypad with your thumbs.

Thanks to more modern phones, texting has been on the decline. There are, however, still people who use it. Even adults! They claim that it’s quick to type. That may be true, but it takes longer to read it….

An adult I know insists on sending out cryptic messages using Viber, an instant messaging/VoIP app. I often have trouble translating these. And they annoy me – effectively, the responsibility is upon me to work out what the message is about. It should be that the responsibility is on the sender to make sure that their message is clear.

After partaking in a transfers of messages with this person (in which I pointed out that txt-speak is very dated), the person sent me a voice message that I actually had to listen to. Her message was…

As I see it, technology has moved forward so much that we can now actually talk with each other.”

I smiled.

How to Explain Big Data to your Grandmother

Solink recently published an infographic with the title “How to Explain Big Data to your Grandmother“.

It was put together for The Grandma prize, at Montreal’s Internatonal Startup Festival. To claim this prize, you have to break your idea down to its fundamental parts, and pitch it to a group that will not be up-to-date on the latest jargon and technological advances.

The infographic does that quite well. What do you think of it?

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8 tips from Paul Newman on being a Business Analyst


Paul Newman, – actor, film director, entrepreneur, professional racing driver, auto racing team owner, and auto racing enthusiast, and … Business Analyst guru.

What?!! BA Guru? 

Yep…draw closer and I’ll tell you why…

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Simple advice – How to Make Ugly Slides Beautiful

This slidedeck presents some fantastic tips on turning slides from dull to wow. I really like this one.

Collection of interesting infographics for those touring the world

In a slight diversion from my usual subject matter, here’s a collection of interesting infographics that has made about the following popular travel destinations:

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The BA is the least knowledgeable about Agile

most knowledgeable

According to VersionOne’s 2013 State of Agile survey, Business Analysts rank as the least knowledgeable about Agile.

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CASE 1- CATWOE & Value Proposition



Having recently “discovered” CATWOE, I found this to be an excellent article.

Originally posted on The science of enterprise—and doing good.:

This is a real life example (has to be anonymous) that shows how defining the core-purpose of your business enables you to define and understand the essence of the value proposition. First up is what the owner described as a manufacturer of coated parts, but what was the value proposition? You’ll need to remind yourself of what CATWOE is here, and my interpretation of what must comprise the value proposition.

1. Hermann Engineering Ltd
Herman Engineering Ltd (HEL) was founded in 1890 by two partners James James and Robert James. It  started its long life near Cardiff in South Wales. It was set up originally to provide a service to the local steel industry, which started to go into heavy decline at the beginning of the 1970s. The company’s principal activity had always been the surface treatment of metal components. Surface treatment involved a variety of processes including, simple…

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Don’t forget’s! when designing for the Web

HQ have put up a great presentation on Slideshare, It that encapsulates some very important factors that must not be forgotten when designing for the web.

I encourage you to have a look…

Is Agile a Cult?


Agile: a set of software development methodology principles in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.

Agile software development is very popular at the moment. It offers a responsive way of developing, and companies are adopting it at a rapid rate.

I’m not going to talk about the benefits of agile – a simple Google search will tell you more than you need to know.

What I do want to touch upon is a comment that someone made to me -Agile is too much like a cult“.

So, let’s have a look … is Agile a cult?

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Back from the Darkness

I'm Back

Time: Friday evening, 23 August 2014

Place: Here

I clicked on the link to my blog to discover ...

24-08-2014 21-35-21

Aarghh … Wordpress had suspended my blog due to a breach of their Terms of Service.

I went through the terms with a magnifying glass. There was nothing that I seemed to have blatantly ignored. Maybe there was something that I had accidentally infringed…

I quickly found their response form on their site, and asked for more information. 

And … it turns out that it was a mistake



Asking the question: GOOD; asking it over and over: BAD – where social engagement in the workplace fails.


Using social tools within the enterprise is a valuable thing. It lets people ask questions to a bigger audience than just those sitting within hearing distance of their desk.

I’ve discussed this in earlier posts (ESS (Enterprise Social Software) – user adoption, and Let’s share!). It’s incredibly valuable to be able to draw on the knowledge of others. That’s why it’s good to be able to ask questions. The answer given helps not just the asker, but can help others, and at the same time, others can add to the answer creating even more value.

Where I feel this all falls down though is that, often, there is no real way to capture that knowledge that came about from the questions asked. Continue reading

Now this is the right way to do it – webinar times in a big world

Kudos to ProjectTimes.

The Internet is a global thing. This means that anything that you publish on it could be read by pretty much anyone in the world. As a result, it is incredibly valuable to offer times, dates, et cetera, in a way that can be easily “localised’.

Project Times promoted a webinar, and were good enough, with the time, to add the offset to GMT. This meant that I could easily calculate what that time was in my time zone. (Rather than having to try and google a translation.)

webinar instructions

My only grumble with this, is that UTC should be used rather than GMT.
However they are both aligned so it’s not that bad.

Understanding the Frustration of a PM


So there he was. Charlie had been assigned as lead BA on a project with an external client. “Cool” he thought, but still felt a bit nervous. There were others in his department that had been in the game longer, and he was still reeling from having the proverbial  “slap in the face” in an earlier project that had turned slightly pear-shaped..

As such, Charlie decided to ask some of his colleagues for help. They were most forthcoming, and decided to hook in other expertise. “All fine” he thought, “the more experience available in this, the better.” 

Charlie drew up a elicitation plan, and scheduled several high-level interviews with the various stakeholders from the upper echelon of the company. On the agreed upon day, he headed on down to the client. He was joined by another BA (with a different skill-set), and the lead designer. Charlie was confident that, together, they would be able to get a deep understanding of the business objectives, business drivers, and expectations of the client. 

The interviews went extremely well. Because there were the three of them, each with a different background, and understanding, the notes gathered during these sessions were richer, than if Charlie had been on his own. Charlie was really chuffed. “This knowledge and understanding gathered today will be really valuable, not just for understanding the client and their expectations, but also when holding the lower-level elicitation workshops.” Charlie thought to himself. It was all good…

Until he got back. In his enthusiasm, Charlie had not actually thought about telling the Project Manager that there would be three people involved. The PM was furious. The two extra people meant that the man-hours used had just increased by a factor of 3. The project had already gone over budget. Charlie tried to explain that this meant better requirements had been gathered, and that it was going to help in the future, but this didn’t really help. The PM ended up having to have a very uncomfortable meeting with the client, and the project ended up coming in way over budget.

This story was inspired by a post on the ProjectTimes site titled A Business Analysts’s Best Friends: The Project Manager The key points from that post are:

  • The PM wants timely information from the BA.
  • Top-notch BAs
    • keep the PM informed.
    • ask for help when they need it
    • stay connected to other BAs
    • build great relationships with stakeholders,
    • build trust and ease users into changes.
  • Top-notch BAs have a broad vision. They can focus on the detailed requirements, but they understand how their piece of work fits into the larger project and organization at large.
  • PMs need to given firm estimates and implementation dates.
  • Successful PMs deliver projects on time and within budget.

Looking at Charlie’s story, you can see that he did do some things right. He asked for help, he focused on detailed requirements, and he worked hard to see how they fitted into the customer’s larger goals, and objectives.

At the same time, Charlie made some big mistakes. He didn’t keep the PM properly informed. And the consequences of this were quite serious.

What are your thoughts on this? Did Charlie really screw up royally? Or was he actually doing the right thing?


Is this a sign that the PMI’s BA certification is of more value?

Venus and Mars

In a recent ProjectTimes articleKiron Bondale described the oft-seen misalignment between Project Managers and Business Analysts.

In his article, he lists some comments made by each about the other…

From the business analysts, common complaints about project managers include:

  • Appear to be focused solely on cost or schedule constraints without also embracing the criticality of having good quality requirements
  • Demonstrate an unwillingness or inability to provide assistance in ensuring that stakeholders are attending and contributing to requirements gathering or review sessions
  • Don’t bother to read or understand high-level project requirements documents
  • Support or initiate scope change decisions without proactively engaging the business analyst

On the other side, I’ve frequently met project managers who complain about business analysts who:

  • Appear to have no sense of time or cost constraints when producing their deliverables or appear unable or unwilling to provide effort or duration estimates for their work
  • Produce requirements documents which are unusable by other project team members or which don’t address the customer’s stated and unstated needs
  • Appear to forget that the second word in their job title actually implies the task of analyzing, distilling and refining requirements as opposed to just parroting what’s been received from stakeholders
  • Become unavailable for the remainder of the project’s lifetime as soon as their requirements documents have been signed off

A lot of these comments see very familiar to me. As a Business Analyst, I have often felt that the interests of the Project Manager weren’t always in the interest of the customer. More or less exactly what the comments above describe.

I guess because, often, the BA is the one that is talking with the various stakeholders (from Management level through to the people performing the business tasks each day), that it the BA feels that they “really understand” what the real users want, as well as understanding their pain points.

As a professional, also, the BA wants to ensure that they have correctly, and thoroughly captured the users needs, and business/technical requirements, so that these are reflected in the final outcome. This sometimes takes more effort than planned for, or expected. And this can cause issues with the PM’s expectations who, while also wanting to provide a good solution, is also concerned with things such as costs, ongoing impact, etc.

Does this “misalignment” occur because PMs are from Mars, and BAs from Venus? That because they come from different “worlds”, they have different views on reality? If so, realising that the PM is the one that is “in charge” of the project, would it mean that a BA with a better appreciation of the world/ideology/background of the PM be of more value to the project?

And … does this mean that the BA certification offering from the Project Manager Institute, is going to play a bigger part in projects in the future?

Your thoughts … ?

See also:

Look Down

In a recent post (“Is being Socially Connected online really that damaging?“), I discussed a response to a video on YouTube that preached the sadness of the way people are constantly online.

I’ve just discovered another response to “Look Up”. This one is called “Look Down“.

And here’s the link to another good one:


How To Say “This Is Crap” In Different Cultures

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

I had been holed up for six hours in a dark conference room with 12 managers. It was a group-coaching day and each executive had 30 minutes to describe in detail a cross-cultural challenge she was experiencing at work and to get feedback and suggestions from the others at the table.

It was Willem’s turn, one of the Dutch participants, who recounted an uncomfortable snafu when working with Asian clients.  “How can I fix this relationship?” Willem asked his group of international peers.

Maarten, the other Dutch participant who knew Willem well, jumped in with his perspective. “You are inflexible and can be socially ill-at-ease. That makes it difficult for you to communicate with your team,” he asserted. As Willem listened, I could see his ears turning red (with embarrassment or anger? I wasn’t sure) but that didn’t seem to bother Maarten, who calmly continued to assess Willem’s weaknesses in…

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