Going Incremental: Embracing the Emergence of a New Organizational Setup

45+ Participants, 5 Facilitators, 7 Workshops

December 4, 2023
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4 min read
people working together and sharing their work in a workshop

This article was first published in our Cocooners N° 14

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This is the story of a fast-growing scale-up that, in a crucial phase of its lifecycle, decided to bet on her internal, widespread wisdom — aka the people — to engage in an emerging redesign of the whole organization.

Started as a spot intervention to help them cope with some suboptimal adjustments to the recent rapid growth, it quickly evolved into a full-fledged organizational redesign spanning over more than 9 months.

Fragmented reality

As it sometimes happens when you grow fast — for example, when you move from a handful to more than 70 people in a couple of years — the profoundly aligned vision and coherent execution from the early days gets eaten by a highly fragmented perception of how reality has evolved, of what the flaws are and what you need to make the wheel spin.

All in all, an unintentionally siloed perspective emerged and the system appeared to struggle to move in a consistent, coordinated direction. So, what happened along the way?

Making information flow

By actively listening to the system, we observed how — in a fast-paced environment largely focused on results — communication and decision-making tilted, in a way that was not effective nor conducive to evolution. Therefore, when we embarked in the first step of the intervention (or Iteration 1) in September 2022, our work was focused on evolving governance and decision-making dynamics, in order to nurture more effective participation, and to initiate the reconfiguration of information flows. Now, how to do that in a way that enables full co-creation mode? Thanks to a microcosm of the system providing the full kaleidoscope of people impacting and being impacted by those dynamics.

Product or non product

If this was the priority at a more operational level, what were the broader effects of this fragmentation? Indeed, it soon became evident that it also had an impact on the adoption of a coherent strategic direction that would effectively align and actualize efforts. The next step (Iteration 2) was therefore dedicated to the main dilemma the organization was facing — and no wonder, under the current circumstances, had so far remained unsolved. In an open and productive session, we took the time to focus on, fully comprehend, and assess the transition from a service-oriented company to a product-oriented company, with the help of lean change management tools and methods.

The sweet spot

At this point the energy was raised and people mobilized, so that we could dive into the redesign of the organizational setup of the company, in a way that would organically and dynamically sustain its evolution. Through four iterations (of which two in presence), and with more than 30 people involved, the system engaged in an intense, ever-evolving and revealing quest that, from the definition of a shared compass, moved into the iterative design of the new core dynamics and their integration into an organic system. So what was this quest all about? It was essentially about finding the sweet spot between adaptivity and stability that would ensure the system to thrive and evolve.

What’s next?

A challenging yet exciting endeavour indeed, for the sub-system involved in the redesign, who — with the finalization of the new organizational setup — was called to put in place the equally critical workstreams to enable its implementation. Disseminating throughout the company the language and underlying principles of the new setup now became the stepstone for a disciplined and careful grounding phase. This is where we stand now, a delicate phase in which the success of the whole transition is at play, and where our role, fully in pull-mode, is that of a supportive sparring partner.

Final thoughts

It turns out this has been an incremental journey. How often do we embark on a predefined quest, setting boundaries to what can be achieved? How often do we do that for the sake of efficiency?

In this journey, the actual transformation happened as the organization opened up to the emerging possibilities of what could be achieved. Key to this was realizing that the potential of the human component of the system was ready to be unleashed and to sustain a much more ambitious quest.


This article was first published in our Cocooners N° 14

If you would like to receive updates on this and other topics related to the evolution of the world of work, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://cocoon-pro.com/#subscribe

If you want to know more, or engage your organization with this approach, please get in touch, here: https://cocoon-pro.com/get-in-touch/

This is the account of our staff at Cocoon Pro. Wish to know who are the people in Cocoon curating our content production?Have a look at the people page on our website here. For any question or feedback we would be happy to hear from you! Reach out here: hello@cocoon-pro.com