Different patterns of autonomy that define organizations.
- Organizations with no internal groups. This is the “age of heroes”.
- Organizations with internal groups that have no control over their boundaries. Always overloaded with work. Very little autonomy. Little they can do about it.
- Internal groups can represent their work to themselves (kanban) which also means they begin to gain some autonomy in terms of their workload.
- Organization gains some way of representing its own internal groups. This means it acquires some shared mental model to understand how the internal groups are related to the organization(possibly cost accounting). This resembles the “age of heroes” dynamic, but lifted up one level.
- In order for the groups to gain more autonomy the organization’s mental model has to change to one that can describe their contributions more clearly (throughput accounting)
- Once the groups are in a position to relate their activities to the larger organization they have the leverage to start processes of improvement (TOC, Tameflow).
I’m not trying to describe “organizational capacity”, I’m trying to imagine the abstract shape of organization and the “degrees of freedom” that the different “shapes” allow.