I've oft mentioned one of my favorite new theory pieces in the realm of Organizational Design , Ring Cone Theory
- but to this point have not been fully cognizant of the fact that some have found the paper I've referred to, to be a bit complex and academically-oriented for the pragmatic. To resolve this issue I thought I'd break down the key elements of this work and hopefully inspire local organizations to reach out and request some assistance with these once-idealized and now seemingly essential shifts in paradigm and framework.
Let's start the first chapter in short and sweet fashion, simply sharing the core organizational form. This speaks to a paradigm shift, where there was initially much resistance to change - a fundamental shift from the traditional organizational heirarchies which sill prevail in today's organizations. The shift expected, since this was first proposed in 2004 and won the Thompson Hine award at Research ShowCASE that year - has started to happen, more out of financial and organizational need - as economic incentives and disincentives have aligned to precipitate new modes of collaboration between organizations. It is somewhat redeeming to see conditions in our civic space align to favor such models.
Per the diagram above, we are speaking about a model in which core organizational divisions - and on a greater system level - organizational collaborations can be best facilitated toward sustainable positive change. The concept is simple - mitigate risk and cost, and organize in such a chaordic fashion, that locus of control issues are likewise mitigated. Propose an alternative to traditional organizational hierarchies which are often slow to adapt, feature distinct information assymetries, and often maintain a culture pervaded by negative behaviors like backbiting, currying of favor, or maintaining a lack of transparency and information sharing. In prevailing hierarchies such behaviors become common, unless a nearly-unrealisitic level of integrity and trust is maintained in such a hierarchal structure - the typical corporate ladder.
So as we see above, a ring of rings is available which allows better accessibility to leadership - simply represented by the radius of the structure above, from true center to outermost ring of the structure, as it evolves. Note the hub-and-spoke design, in which the hubs represent servant leadership positions held by individuals who transcend ego to truly consider the best for the whole, and in specific, the needs of respective constituent ring members. This helps maintain the necessary modeling, in leading by example, by respective ring leaders.
The respective ring members retain a level of accountability and authority over ring leaders - somewhat topsy-turvy considering today's command-and-control - top down organizational designs. Compensation differentials in traditional hierarchies often exceed a ratio of 200 to 1 , top to bottom in the prevailing paradigm. Yet first-moving organizations like Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and others have demonstrated significant cultural advantages in embracing paradigms which restrict such a differential to 5 to 1 or less.
The simple fact is that traditional and now antiquated structural and functional paradigms perpetuate a tendency toward assymetric information - that is - particulars key to organizational strategy, direction, and so forth are often isolated and restricted to all organizational members, thus curtailing maximal synergy building and information sharing. We can evolve as both individuals, and organizations to embrace truly collaborative and connected forms such as this one. The fact that this form is symmetric and simple gives it much credence, as the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) maxim has long maintained.
It is my hope and belief that more organizations and collaborations of organizations (one system level up) will embrace such a model as the new prevailing paradigm over time. There is much to share along the way, as to the way organizations can move toward such a structure - imagine organizations 'fattening', then 'flattening' to meet this outcome. The inherent synergies are apparent - as organizations share information across previously siloed sectors and divisons over time to create new intersections of value and enrich the Whole through this sharing from diverse sources within the equally valued people-assets (the most important assets) of the organization.
This model serves as a strong example of other intersecting values under a frame of information sharing, trust, and transparency. Look at our top-of-page realneo.us taxonomy - and picture each domain as each of these: arts, education, environment, economy, health, and technology. These same six spheres can be represented pictorially here, in the ring-of-rings design above.
Keep in mind this structural framework can best be supported by an adequately aligned culture. So we are speaking to a transcendental mindshift amongst organizational members. But even if members are not ready for such a shift, they should have adequate incentive to embrace such a model - because as the whole prospers, prosperity comes back proportionately and increasingly over time to each individual. It takes a special mode to not embrace a system where one's perpetuated belief in superiority and ego prevail.
The added dimension, if you will, to this model - is the cone-of-cones
concept - hence the term 'ring cone theory'. To best visualize and understand this extension-of-concept - picture each of the ring 'hubs' elevated in the minds of the constituent ring members. if we do so, we see that each of the rings become cones - and ultimately the structure takes the form of one cone. This is a form of hierarchy, yes - but an idealized one and not a physical one. It essentially speaks to the reverent attitude of ring members for their self-selected leader. It also alludes to the power of collectives and a deep respect for servant leadership - one, which I must say with emphasis, is lacking when considering the leadership effectiveness in this region and world today. So to better clarify the shift in this idealistic sense (a 3-Dimentional sense that complements the 2-Dimensional ring of rings frame) we can visualize this as follows:
I appeal to our community here in NEO to take a leaderhip role and embracing such a design, within and between organizations, for the betterment of our community, in a chaotic and oft-unpredictable economic climate. It begins to make more sense - over time, as we extrapolate the projected path we are currently traversing. Let's do this together, NEO - and world. Comments, thoughts, contributions always welcome. As always I've shared these concepts freely on realneo for our whole community and its benefit. Let's work to get there from here - and take a leadership role globally and sustainably in the process. The timing is finally right!
It is my belief that the highest standards of citizenship, governance, and social responsibility can best be achieved if the organization can successfully implement critical functional changes to facilitate a culture of collaboration and interdependence. This culture can best be implemented when associated with a structure that best enables the implementation of these principles. Today’s organizations are hindered in many cases by steeply tiered hierarchies which foster characteristics (individualism, information asymmetry, high power culture, inaccessibility, destructive competition) which mitigate the organization’s true potential for stewardship and citizenship. The structural inefficiency of traditional corporate hierarchies and the culture which often predominates within create impediments and costs which restrict the implementation of functional change. Here I present an organizational structure adapted to suit these functions, suggested to facilitate a collaborative and synergistic culture capable of freeing up resources which can be better directed toward stakeholders so that the highest standard of sustainability and community stewardship is achieved.
EDITOR NOTE: the critical opportunity is to use the structures above to move social media into an integrated and synergistic opportunity. Tremendous opportunity to maximize synergy, and create new, rich outcomes through information sharing that simply betters the whole.