In the last few years, Spotify published their organisation model and many have been trying to copy it since. Advisory organisations have jumped on this bandwagon giving it much promotion. The model is certainly interesting. But is it adapted to every type of business? Is it the systemic solution to make a digital business work? Or, as the cynic would see it, is it only a way for said-consultancies to get lucrative change management work?
There are many other reference models, Bi-modal from Gartner, Product alignment inspired by Lean, PST from Simon Wardley. I even came up with a matrix model a few years back to drive change-as-a-service in organisations. All have a worthwhile take on the situation. However, all models tend to be designed for a context and a purpose and their codification loses their worth. The say “A fool with a tool...” comes to mind. Spotify warned that their model was only a snapshot of evolution and it has continued to change since it was published.
What should we focus our attention on therefore? Complexity thinking explained how organisations need to worry about their continued fitness in their ecosystem. The skill is in the ability to adapt rather than the model itself.
With such an approach, it is critical to understand how the organisation functions and how the work flows through it. We live in the belief that the organisation chart captures this, but it does not, far from it. The Viable System Model (VSM) offers such a technique. VSM models the organisation systems in relation to the environment. It then looks at the flows of work through the systems, the governance and the information available for decisions. It generates a view of the system of work, which is the first step to manage its continuous adaptation and improvements. It should be the compass for leaders going through a digital change journey.
To talk about VSM, we have the pleasure to welcome Patrick Hoverstadt. Please reserve your spot early as this session is likely to be in high-demand.
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Designing the Digital Organisation using the Viable System Model.
Patrick has worked as a consultant since 1995 with organisations of all sizes and internationally in both the private and public sector. He specialises in using systemic approaches, working mainly on strategy, organisational design and organisational change.
Patrick is the author of “Fractal Organisation” a book on organisation design using the Viable System Model published by Wiley in 2008 which has been used used on seven masters programmes around the world, and he is co-author of “Patterns of Strategy” a book on a systemic approach to strategy published by Gower in 2017. He chairs SCiO – a group of systems practitioners – and is a Visiting Research Fellow at Cranfield School of Management.