This is something I'll return to but I'll put this up as a starting point. It relates to the use of pioneers, settlers and town planners within an organisation.
When looking at a new line of business, I tend to prefer to describe the entire line of business as a Unit. Normally, I'd expect to see a well defined fitness function (describing rules of engagement, what it does, how it is to be measured, measures against user needs etc) and some form of cell based structure (e.g. Amazon two pizza rule) which each cell described by its own fitness function.
Each cell is autonomous (within the fitness function) and the fitness function is defined, measured and evaluated by the executive in charge of the unit. If there are too many cells in one unit, I'd normally expect to see this broken down into multiple units each containing cells with autonomy & separation between both cells and different units.
General rules are :-
- All work is defined by fitness functions (rules of engagement, mechanism of measurement etc)
- All work is done by small cells (i.e. teams of less than 12) providing services / products etc to others. Each cell is covered by its own fitness function and has autonomy over how it does things.
- A unit is a logical grouping of one or more cells. It has an executive responsible and autonomy over how it does things.
- The executive in charge of a unit is responsible for measuring, defining and refining fitness functions of all cells within their unit. They are also responsible for delivering against their unit's fitness function.
- As cells become too big (i.e. greater than 12), they are subdivided into new cells within the unit. Each cell will have their own fitness functions.
- As a unit becomes too big it is subdivided into new units, each with their own executive and fitness function.
In figure 1, I'll apply these principles to a map of a new business. I'll assume you're familiar with mapping, if not then start here.
Figure 1 - Basic structure, derived from a map.
Now obviously each cell is going to require different skills (i.e. aptitudes or capabilities if you wish). It's the cells responsibility to ensure it has the right skills.
However, there's another factor in here. Attitude. When we look at a map, we know that activities evolve from uncharted to industrialised and the methods, techniques, type of people and even culture changes. The type of engineering you need to build a highly novel act (i.e. genesis) requires experimentation and agile techniques. The type of engineering you need to build a highly industrialised act requires a focus on volume operations and six sigma. As with aptitude, attitude also matters.
Figure 2 - Importance of Attitude.
To resolve this problem then you populate the cells with different types of people - pioneers, settlers and town planners. All are important. It's not realistic to think that everyone has the same attitude, some are much more capable of living in a world of chaos, experimentation and failure whilst others are much more capable of dealing with intensive modelling, the rigours of volume operations and measurement.
Figure 3 - Populate by Attitude.
One of the things that populating by attitude enables is a process of theft in order to mimic evolution and the natural effects of competition i.e. settlers steal from pioneers, town planners steal from settlers and pioneers build on the service that town planners create.
Figure 4 - Mimicking evolution through theft.
The net effect of this is you end up with two branches of an organisation, both defined by fitness function but one focused on preparation and the other work.
The work is divided into units and cells, defined by fitness functions (as above) with each cell having autonomy and separated from others through services or products produced or delivered.
The preparation side has different responsibilities. First, it is subdivided into the three structures necessary to enable three culture covering the different types of attitude. I know everyone says an organisation needs one culture, I fundamentally disagree. It needs three.
Each of those structures (Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners) have multiple aptitudes (finance, HR, engineering etc) and an executive in charge. The responsibility of the executive is threefold
1) developing the necessary culture and skill required for that particular attitude i.e. for pioneer engineers a focus on agile and experimentation whilst for town planner engineers a focus on extensive mathematical modelling and six sigma.
2) ensuring that required skills (of the right attitude and aptitude) are available to cells & units.
3) identifying opportunities for theft i.e. the job of the chief settler is to identify all those 'pioneer' cells whose work is becoming suitable for productisation and hence to steal from them by creating a new cell to meet the fitness function and replace the existing cell, forcing its pioneers to move on to more 'pioneering'. Ditto the chief town planner whose role includes industrialising all the 'settler' cells to more utility services.
The matrix structure of aptitude and attitude is used in preparation (i.e. creating the right culture & training in order to create effective cells). The executives are responsible for ensuring this preparation and that a process of theft occurs within the working environment forcing cells to evolve. This enforces adaptation in terms of evolution.
The working environment consists of cells (grouped into units) delivering against defined fitness functions and growing (as per a starfish model) to occupy the required space. As they create new cells, they steal from the preparation side any people they need. The cells control their work themselves (within the confines of a fitness function) and the only time they lose control is when a more appropriate cell (as in attitude) comes along and steals their work from them.
The role of the executive function is in creating, monitoring and refining those fitness function for both the preparation and work side. This requires an extensive understanding of the environment and the ability to adapt fitness functions according to any outside threat.
Now this model also complements the whole ILC technique for development and exploitation of ecosystems with town planners building the core services, pioneers developing new concepts on this and settlers exploiting both internal and external work (through the use of consumption data) to identify successful changes to be introduced.
Parts of the structure are or have been implemented in different places. No single organisation seems to have covered both elements of aptitude & attitude combined with the needs of cell based structure. This is simply an area I'm exploring because I don't agree that our existing organisational structures (even Amazon's) represent the pinnacle of organisation. They are simply just a lot better than what most companies use.