A Lexicon
of 21st Century
Organization Design Terms

The purpose of this dictionary:
We began capturing the words and phrases you will discover below because words matter. We realized we did not always have a shared understanding of the concepts we were talking to each other about. Out of that realization, came the need for some definitions. This list is not meant to be all inclusive either. We are sure you will look for and not find something you think important. We did not intentionally exclude anything, and we have not pretended to think of everything. So if something is missing, let’s add it!  It is intended to be a living resource.

As you know, definitions are imprecise and often open to interpretation. So this lexicon serves two purposes: Generate a repository of words, phrases, and concepts core to organization design and start a conversation regarding what do we mean exactly by these words we bandy about.

The definitions are not a consensus amongst us, but rather a starting place for common understanding and insights. The definitions are sometimes quotes from others, sometimes our feeble attempt to say what we think we mean, and always a springboard for deeper understanding.

Finally, definitions in RED are meant to be works in progress. They identify those concepts still in progress/final “definition” still TBD.

The list grows some each day, as we talk and explore. In some cases, it is just the word and we need to come back to what do we mean by it! There are so many ideas, there is so much “jargon,” and words and concepts matter. We use American English as a convention and English is a ‘sloppy’ language (many words for the same things, many words with multiple meanings). To align and ensure we are talking about the same thing, that we have the same mental constructs, it is important to have a dictionary.

So here is ours. Enjoy!

On behalf of our ODF colleagues – Paul Tolchinsky, Stu Winby, Peter Sorenson, Jagoda Perich-Anderson

Our Living Lexicon

Action Research: An emergent inquiry process that combines applied behavioral science and organizational knowledge for progressive problem solving or innovation seeking within a community of practice. It is simultaneously concerned with bringing about change in organizations, in developing self-help competencies in organizational members, and in adding to scientific knowledge. Finally, it is an evolving process that is undertaken in a spirit of collaboration and co-inquiry. (Pasmore and Shani, 2016) The process includes planning/designing, implementing, gathering data, observing and reflecting, analyzing and adjusting based on what is learned. (See also: Community of Practice, Action Learning, Double Loop Learning and Levels of Analysis, Design, & Action)

Action Learning: A process that involves groups working on real problems, taking action, and learning as individuals, as a team, and as an organization. It helps organizations develop creative, flexible and successful strategies for pressing problems. PDCA, and double-loop are examples. Reflecting and adjusting are key components.

Adaptive work system: A management process or “platform” which operates as a high-performance network structure for identifying, designing, developing, and scaling a variety of innovations and management solutions. Rooted in the principles of socio-technical systems the key processes in AWS are mobilize, act and adapt, and are designed for complex information processing and decision making. Applications used on the AWS platform are: start-up organization design, strategic organization design, operational socio-technical design, modular design, design thinking, agile design, experience and service design, work design, and transformational design.

Agile design: A design process that allows the design team to use iterations to deliver an incomplete design to the customer by dividing required functionality into small iterations so that by the end of an iteration, the design is shared with the customer for feedback so adjustments and changes can be made in the next iteration. Agile is not an organizational form, but a way of organizing projects. However, some firms are scaling agile models at the company level (Spotify model).

Ambidexterity: A dual simultaneous focus on innovation (exploration) and optimization (exploitation).

Ambidextrous organization: An organizational model that is designed for simultaneous revenue performance (H1), cost center functional productivity (H1), incubation – innovations to modernize the operating model and product/service extensions (H3); Transformation design – disruptive business model go-to-market (H2).

Application programming interface (API): A standardized set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications that makes it easy for an outside programmer to write code that will connect seamlessly with the platform infrastructure.

Augmentation: The socio-technical design term joint-optimization has been defined in recent digital technology literature as augmentation – the relationship between humans and machines that is mutually empowering and where humans create more value by having the machine’s help, and to personally reap greater gains by doing so.

Boundary management: A form of management, generally for self-managing work systems, that focuses on on-going empowerment, long-term planning, and intergroup alignment rather than immediate operations. “Boundaries” are the time, structure, authority and technology “fences” drawn on organization charts, wire diagrams and in people’s minds, between teams, departments and/or divisions. At best, boundaries clarify which groups are responsible for which tasks.

Business model: A model that describes how an organization creates, delivers and captures value to its customers in economic, social, and/or environmental contexts. At minimum, elements of a business model include the value proposition aligned with its customer base, products/services, delivery methods, cost structure and revenue models. Business model innovation has proven to be a disruptive force in many industries (e.g. online Freemium model).

Bureaucracy: A specific form of organization usually referred to how governments are organized, and defined by complexity, division of labor, permanence, professional management, hierarchical coordination and control, strict chain of command, and legal authority. This traditional form of organizing is counter to the adaptive innovative organization capabilities required in today’s modern organization.

Capabilities: Organizations are designed to have specific organizational capabilities specific to the execution of their strategy. A capability as anything an organization does well that drives intended business results. Organization capabilities are the collective skills, expertise, and alignment of the people in the organization.

Complex adaptive systems: A system that is complex in that it is a dynamic network of interactions. It is adaptive in that the individual and collective behavior will self-organize corresponding to the change-initiating micro-event or collection of events. Consists of elements, whose relationships may be changing all of the time.

Configuration: An assignment of work to units of the organization. The configuration indicates the hierarchy of responsibility, represented pictorially as an organizational chart, an icon of the organization. This is sometimes called organization structure or architecture.

Centralization: The degree to which coordination and control of the organization’s work are managed by a core person or level of the organization, usually corporate headquarters.

Collaborative Design Technologies: By this phrase we mean the organization design approaches that engage a critical mass of stakeholders in the design process. Exemplified by approaches where people co-create solutions, test, iterate and refine. Examples of these include Appreciative Inquiry Summit, Decision Accelerators, Whole-Scale Change Large Group Methods, Open Space and the Conference Model
Commons: Commons refers to resources that are collectively owned and available to members of the organization. In digital socio-technical design commons usually refers to information that facilitates self-organization and high performance. Digitally shared information provides an up-to-date picture of problems and opportunities in the organization’s environment as well as the current availability of resources to address those problems and opportunities. Digitally shared information is widely available to organization members in their decision-making.
Community of Practice: Any formalized networks of people that encourage everyone with common interests or inter-related functions to learn, share and explore together.

Components: Components are slices of code that perform a specific task, like providing directions to a location or calculating a customer order in a shopping cart. Most components are API enabled components. Typically, a team creates and is accountable for a component. Organizing people and components enable speed and agility, because they allow people to quickly assemble solutions from parts that already exist.

Customer Journey: The moments (see definitions for employee journey map and touchpoint) at which a customer interacts with an organization from first impression to ultimate purchase/acceptance of a product/service. Gathering customer feedback (see feedback loops) at critical touchpoints is a design element for customer retention and loyalty.

Customer/stakeholder co-creation: A design practice that involves all key stakeholder and customer representatives in the organization design process. Depending on the design scope and goals, stakeholders could include suppliers, partners, funders, and others.

Decentralization: The degree to which responsibility for coordination and control lies in the subunits of an organization and individual managers, rather than corporate headquarters or in one specific level of the hierarchy.

Decision accelerator: A collaborative design process that brings together stakeholders and subject matter experts to engage in exploration, analysis and decision-making around critical opportunities or challenges. Methodologies may include virtual whiteboards, design thinking and prototyping. Relatively faster decisions are possible because the right people and experts are working together and rapid feedback systems are deployed.

Deliberations: A sequence of reflective and communicated acts (converging moments) employed to resolve problematic issues. Typically, pre-set questions focused on key choice points or critical challenges guide the deliberation process. A time-boxed information processing tool, leveraging teams and networks.

Design thinking: A process for creative problem solving and innovation. Design thinking has a human-centered core in that it encourages organizations to focus on the people they’re creating for which leads to better products, services, and internal processes. It is an iterative process using a cycle of putting out a minimal viable product prototype, obtaining customer feedback and adjusting accordingly (AKA, rapid prototyping?).

Design Criteria: The minimum critical choice points to determine the best possible design options. The organization capabilities that the business needs to have in order to achieve its strategy.

Disruptive Innovation: An innovation that brings to the market a new and different value proposition with the potential to upset the status quo in a competitive market.

Digital platform: A repository of business, data, and infrastructure components used to rapidly configure digital offerings.

Digital social technical design: An integrated organizational configuration of people (roles, accountabilities, structures, skills), processes (workflows, routines, procedures) and technology (infrastructure, applications) to define value propositions and deliver products and services made possible by the capabilities of digital technologies. The digital work systems approach is an organizational design that brings together people, processes, technology (and information) in a manner that optimizes the “fit” among them in order to produce high performance in terms of the effective response to customer requirements and other environmental demands and opportunities.

Digital transformation (digitization): Any digital technologies that transform the organization – redefining customer value propositions, value-added processes, and people processes.

Digital technologies: are those that enable the generation, capture, storage, analysis, communication, and processing of information by electronic computers to augment business processes through platforms, apps, networks, and devices.

Double Loop Learning: A questioning (or self-reflecting) of an organization’s underlying norms, policies, objectives (governing variables) in order to detect underlying assumptions and mental models to enable correcting errors and solving complex problems. By contrast, single loop learning is when the error detected and corrected permits the organization to carry on its present policies or achieve its present objectives. According to Chris Argyris, the originator of this concept, single-loop learning is like a thermostat that learns when it is too hot or too cold and turns the heat on or off. The thermostat can perform this task because it can receive information (the temperature of the room) and take corrective action.

Dynamic Homeostasis: refers to the ability of a system to maintain a stable internal environment despite changes in external conditions. The stability, or balance, that is attained is called a dynamic equilibrium; that is, as changes occur, the system works to maintain relatively uniform conditions, it adapts at the rate of change around it. Every industry has its own rhythm and pace, to survive you adapt (create balance (equilibrium) or die.

Ecosystem design: A design consideration that takes into account the constellation of stakeholders within which an entity operates as well as that entity’s individual design goals for the mutual benefit of all. An entity’s ecosystem may be composed of numerous corporations, partners, government regulators, non-profit groups, individuals and communities that might be individually autonomous but related through their connection with an underlying, evolving technical/digital system.

Elasticity: Our ability to “stretch the rubber bands of peoples’ minds.” The more elasticity we create, the more divergent from current reality their choices will be. Moving people out of their “comfort-zones” to imagine the unimaginable. Premise is, when they decide, the rubber band always snaps back to something more “realistic,” thus the more important elasticity is.
Empathy Map: A collaborative tool teams can use to gain a deeper insight into their customers. Much like a user persona, an empathy map can represent a group of users, such as a customer segment. The empathy map was originally created by Dave Gray and has gained much popularity within the agile community. With the map, customer data is summarised in a visualisation that consists, typically of four quadrants. These four quadrants each describe a different main trait of the user. The four quadrants refer to what a user says, does, thinks, or feels.

Employee Journey Map: In a digital environment people (employees) can be either the greatest inhibitors or the greatest enablers of business success. Accordingly, organizations have begun to focus on the employee experience through employee journey mapping as intently as they do on the customer experience. New approaches to design the employee experience through employee journey mapping have emerged: augmentation, future-readying, and flex-forcing.

Enterprise Organization Design: In enterprise organization design the entire business, including members of the ecosystem, are the unit of analysis for design. It is about bringing together all the elements needed to make an enterprise successfully deliver, using a holistic and systemic design approach.

Equifinality: There are a million ways to skin a cat. The principle that in open systems a given end state can be reached by many potential means. Also meaning that a goal can be reached in many ways. The term and concept is due to Hans Driesch, the developmental biologist, later applied by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, the founder of general systems theory, and by William T. Powers, the founder of perceptual control theory.

Escape Velocity: A metaphor borrowed from space rockets to describe the inertia it takes to shift to a new paradigm, to overcome the resistance to a change ( of “gravity”as it were). It is the minimum interia with which a change must move to escape from the gravitational attraction of the current situation.
Experience design: A systemic design thinking approach that combines design with business to look at new opportunities, frame problems and projects, and evaluate solutions. The goal is to maximize customers and stakeholders value.

Fast Scaling: A managed organizational design process to enable the establishment of a new (digital/agile) mindset in the organization. Three types of scaling: Growing revenue, growing the customer base and adapting the organization. Fast Scaling involves bringing the “new” out to the organization as a whole. The key to fast scaling is the ability to make continuous, on-going adjustments to the plans as they rollout. Moving from sequential start-up pilots to parallel processing for fast scale, network organizations are created because they are faster and more flexible.

Feedback: Any information that describes the difference between a desired result or expectation and the actual result or impact used to identify change(s) needed to improve organizational performance or work relationships.

Feed Forward: passes a signal from a source in the work systems external environment (out in the future) which allows anticipation and greater problem-solving capability.

Feedback loop (digital platforms): Any pattern of interactions (in platforms) that serve to create a constant stream of self-reinforcing activity. In the typical feedback loop, a flow of value units is delivered to the participant/customer which generates a response from him/her. If the units are relevant and interesting, the user will be drawn to the platform repeatedly, generating a further flow of value units and prompting more interactions. If the interactions do not grow, or problematic for the user, the platform team changes the performance of the value unit.

Feedback loop (open systems): A way to determine changes for improvement to the inputs and process transformations or even value propositions by using the responses from the systems’ outputs. Systems thinking uses causal loop diagrams (also known as feedback loops) to better understand a systems behavior in order to identify leverage points for improvements. (See also Open Systems).

Forum of deliberation: A medium of exchange with others through which a deliberation reduces equivocality and moves decisions forward on a particular topic. A forum might be a meeting, memo, report, computer modeling, or phone conversation.

Foresight: the ability to predict or the action of predicting what will happen or be needed in the future.

Hierarchy: a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.

Holacracy: A method of decentralized management and organizational governance which aims to distribute authority and decision-making through a holarchy of self-organizing teams rather than being vested in a management hierarchy.

Horizons Model: A specific focus in a strategic plan for how best to allocate resources across three investment horizons which enables simultaneous management of optimization and revenues, innovation, and disruptive innovation. The three different investment horizons each promise a return in a different time period: H1 – Investments are expected to contribute to materials returns in the same fiscal year in which they are brought to market, thereby generating today’s cash flow; H2 – investments are expected to pay back, but not in the year of their market launch; H3 – investments in future businesses that will pay off in the out years beyond the current planning horizon. The organization design to support this strategy is referred to as an ambidextrous organization design. Often H3 investments require protection from criticis

Incompletion: A term used to capture the idea that since the context of the organization will continue to evolve over time, no design can be considered ‘finished.’ (Also see Minimum Critical Specifications)

Information processing: Any method used to talk, read, write, enter information in databases, calculate, analyze, interpret, and decide in order to coordinate and control the organizations’ activities in the face of uncertainty.

Innovation: The practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or services or improvement in offering goods or services. Innovation can be defined in terms of type – business model innovation, product and service innovation, experience innovation, work innovations, process innovations, etc.

Insight: the power or act of seeing into a situation – penetration. an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding.

Interdependence (Pooled, Sequential, Reciprocal): In pooled interdependence, the team accomplishes its tasks simply by combining everyone’s separate efforts. … In sequential interdependence, team members rely on each other in predictable ways for the flow of information, work and decisions. Each person’s output becomes the input for the next person in the sequence. In reciprocal interdependence, your team members are sequentially interdependent, but in addition, work back and forth. Team members need to adjust to each others’ actions as the situation changes. For example, a hockey team has reciprocal interdependence.

Joint optimization: A term used to describe design for system optimization [the social and technical] as opposed to maximizing one aspect at the expense of the other. The goal is mutual enhancement of the social and technical aspects of a work system. Frequently in today’s digital world, this same concept is referred to as augmentation. The individual should be viewed as complementary to the machine rather than as an extension of it and the machine a complementary component to the human, not a replacement for them. (See also Augmentation)

Key variance: Any deviation in a conversion process that affects downstream and even upstream performance. They are deviations from acceptable — an error or a defect —that can be detected and corrected easily before they move across a boundary into another area and compound problems. The resolution of these significantly improves the overall performance of the system.

Lateral processes: The business and management processes that move decisions and information through the system in some formalized flow. The horizontal glue that keeps interdependent components connected and aligned.

Lateral Organizations: Any of the coordinating mechanisms (networks, processes, roles, teams, meetings, and reporting relationships) designed to augment the hierarchy to create a more limber and adaptive structural design. Typically the horizontal glue that connects the vertical elements.

Law of requisite variety: A law posited by W. Ross Ashby saying that the degree of control of a system is proportional to the amount of information available (“variety” is synonymous with information). Therefore, the more complex the system the more information is required.

Lean start-up: A set of iterative practices for helping designers build a successful start up organization before running out of resources. The practices involve rapid validation of customer and market responses to a new product or service. The objective is to maximize learning (about customers, pricing, markets) within a timeframe that optimizes scarce resources.

Learning Lab: An instructional design that invites active participation, knowledge and experience sharing by attendees in addition to content provided by the teachers. The goal is to advance mutual understanding of the subject and for everyone to leave with more knowledge collectively than anyone came in with individually.

Levels of Analysis, Design and Action: An approach to action research and design that looks at multiple levels–a whole system–that interconnect and provide feedback and feed forward. There are at least three levels of design: Macro, Mezzo, and Micro. Macro is typically the highest level, aligning to the industry, markets and strategy of the company. Mezzo, is referred to as the mid-level, more operational details of the organization from business units to functions and departments. Micro is the term used to define the work group/team level, day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. This includes how teams function, collaborate within and across their unit and deliver on their promises.

Matrix structure: A combination of a functional and divisional form; a dual focus; a dual hierarchy. Usually put in place to ensure that people interact with and focus simultaneously on two or more organizational forces (customers, functions, products, geographies, etc) simultaneously.

Major deliberations: A deliberation judged by a design team to be highly important, usually related to core critical issues, and therefore deserving more detailed attention in the design process.

Minimal critical specifications: A concept with two aspects, negative and positive: The negative aspect states that no more should be specified than is absolutely essential. The positive aspect states that we need to identify only that which is essential. Specify no more than is necessary, leave the rest to others to decide.

Modular organization: A highly adaptive learning organization that continuously changes, reconfigures, and solves problems through interconnected, coordinated, self-organizing processes. This is generally a digital platform self-managing team and component individuals / teams.

Modular organization design: A composition of (modules) that are designed independently but still function as an integrated whole. Design rules fall into three categories: an architecture which specifies which modules will be part of the system and what their functions will be: accountabilities that describe in detail how the modules will interact; and standards for testing and modules’ conformity to the design rules and measuring module performance. The design creates a distribution of responsibilities for digital offerings and components that balance autonomy and alignment. In digital systems this usually involves self-managed teams responsible for a product/service offering and component teams/ owners.

Multi-dimensional Organization: Organizations usually start as one-dimensional functional structures and add dimensions as they grow – business units, geographic dimensions, customer segment dimensions, etc. The multi-dimensional organization balances all these dimensions into an organization that can execute to its’ strategy.

Multi-skilling: An underlying philosophy that says that organization design should be based on a redundancy of functions rather than on a redundancy of parts (multiskilling vs. single-skilling)

Network organization: A network configuration for predominantly non-routine office work, involving multiple linkages among professionals and executives that complement the existing line organization. Both formal and informal they serve to coordinate and influence work.

Non-Routine Work: Any work that tends to be accomplished differently each time it is performed, usually in response to external stimuli/factors.

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results): A collaborative goal-setting protocol for companies, teams, and individuals.

Open systems: A system with external interactions (e.g. information, materials, energy) into and out of the defined system boundary that render a joint product/service by transforming inputs from an environment into outputs for the environment. A system of interrelated parts that has external interactions that can take the form of information, energy, or material transfers into or out of the system boundary with its environment.

Operating model: The desired level of business process integration and business process standardization for delivering goods and services to customers. The operating model describes the target state of how much your business processes should be standardized and integrated.

Operational organization design: A bottom up approach to organization design that focuses on the technology, processes and people doing the work. It is sometimes referred to as socio-technical work design and is one aspect of Socio-technical Systems Design which also considers the interaction of the broader ecosystem, strategy and psychology of organizational design. (See also Socio-technical Systems Design)

Opinion leader / “Free Radical”: A person respected for his or her expertise, judgement, and insights. A free radical has opinions outside the common solution context.

Organization: A collection of people identified socially as an entity or one of its subunits; deliberately formed, goal directed, bounded, and functions on a relatively continuous basis.

Organizational capability: The unique combination of skills, processes, technologies, and human abilities that differentiate an organization. They are created internally and are thus difficult for others to replicate. The organizational capabilities are the criteria used for organization design decisions.

Organization design: The complete specifications of strategy, structure, processes, people, coordination, accountability, control, and reward components of an organization.

Organization design practitioner: A design professional who employs a portfolio of design approaches (start-up organization design, strategic organization design, operational design, socio-technical design, modular design, design thinking, agile design, experience and service design, work design, and transformational design) for purposes of improving the social and technical performance of the organization.

Organizational effectiveness: An organization’s goal priorities that contrast with efficiency; a focus on outputs, products or services, revenue generation, or seizing leading edge innovation in the marketplace.

Organizational efficiency: An organization’s goal priorities that contrast with effectiveness; a focus on inputs, use of resources, and cost management, especially minimizing the cost of producing goods and services.

Organizational learning: An organizational design element for capturing and applying new understanding and consequently modifying the structure and cultural fabric of an organization. This process is required in order to derive the greatest possible benefit from new digital technologies.

Organization structure: A way to depict the distribution of power and authority within an organization. Hierarchical forms include: functional organizations; product or business unit organizations; customer business units; geographical organizations. Other forms include: hybrid and matrix structures, and holacracies.

Organization processes: The ways work gets done in organizations consisting of task activities, information sharing and decision-making.

Participative design: An approach to design attempting to actively involve all stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, suppliers, customers, distributors, citizens, end users) in the design process to help ensure the result meets their needs, is usable and used.

Platform: A business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which value can be created and exchanged. The purpose of a platform is to consummate matches among users and facilitate the exchange of goods, services, or social currency, thereby enabling value creation for all its participants. A digital platform is a repository of business, data and infrastructure components used to rapidly configure digital offerings (products and services).

Proto-typing (rapid prototyping): Generally, rapid prototyping involves learners and/or subject matter experts (SMEs) interacting with early iterations and designers in a continuous review/revision cycle.

Reconfigurable design: Any organizational structures and processes which are easily reconfigured and realigned with a constantly changing strategy. To create a variety increasing work system that embodies the principle of redundant functions (team members, networks take on multiple, redundant functions).

Role network: The lattice of assignments engaged in a particular deliberation. People with interdependent roles who collaborate on key mutually affecting issues.

Self-organizing Unit: developed around whole pieces or key elements of the output product. Able to iterate, correct, control at the source, and manage interdependencies, freely. Variance control at the point of origin. Daily control over what happens inside the unit and in its interactions with other units.

Service design: The activity of planning and organizing a business’s resources (people, processes and technology) in order to directly improve the customer’s experience.

Social system analysis: A phase of social technical design that involves examination of the tools, processes and procedures in the social subsystem of work (i.e. leadership, teams, motivation, culture).

Socio-technical Systems Design: A method of organizational analysis and design, existing since the period following World War II, that seeks to establish the best possible match between technical (tools, processes and procedures) and social aspects of work. It is premised on participative design and encourages work task designs for the whole-person (hands and mind). Updated for the digital era, the STS framework builds upon its three perspectives (socio-ecological, socio-technical and socio-psychological) to emphasize human-centered design values in human-machine augmentation.

Span of Control: the concept that describes the number of people that are managed by someone. It is a chain of command notion where the number of subordinates are properly identified to understand a manager’s reach. Historically, 10-12 staff per manager was seen as optimal.

STARLAB: a rapid organization design approach that involves a multi-stakeholder group working iteratively to co-create design solutions to address changing realities and generate socio-technically optimized organization solutions. (from Pasmore, Winby, Mohrman and Vanese)

State Change: In socio-technical systems a state change is each conversion step (material or information transformation state) from input to final output. A change from one state to another. Outputs from each state change has specific performance requirements. Not achieving performance requirements in a state changes is a variance.

Start-up organization: A start-up is a socio-technical organization designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty. A start-up is designed as an open system where anything that drives the customer experiences drives the startup. The start-up organization is designed for Innovation, adaption, speed, and most important fast learning.

Strategic organization design: A macro level design process that begins with the entry’s strategy and can be applied at the enterprise, business unit, geographical, and functional levels.

System scan: A phase of social technical design that involves examining the work system as a whole, including for example environmental, government and competitive factors, national and global influences, the industry, history, inputs, outputs, mission, and philosophy.

Task design: A design method that decomposes work into its sub-tasks and then links them together to create jobs that meet organizational goals.

Technical systems analysis: A phase of social technical design that involves examination of the tools and procedures in the technical subsystem of work. The technical system includes the technology (machines and information systems) and processes used to control variances and convert inputs into outputs for the customer.

Time Horizon: Generally – Horizon One: 0 – 12 months; Horizon two: 12 – 36 months; Horizon three 36 -72 months.

Topic of deliberation: A reoccurring, equivocal issue or theme that is the subject of a deliberation.

Touchpoint: They are more than just transactional moments. They are critical interactions within the customer journey that help define key moments in the process which can build or erode customer trust; any interaction of the potential customer or customer with the brand before, during, or after (s)he purchases something from the brand.

Transformational Organization Design: A design goal and intervention that involves a major shift in the way an entity has been organized. This might involve a significant change in the business model (e.g. value chain to platform), decision and accountability systems (e.g. hierarchy to holacracy), innovative technologies (e.g. manual to robotics), or other major changes.

Unit of analysis: The organization that is being designed, whether a team, business unit, department, division, firm, or large enterprise. The unit of analysis must be held constant throughout the step-by-step design process.

Unit operations: A cluster of production steps grouped together by virtue of joint contribution to some interim product.

User-centered design: The design focuses on creating experiences through the customer’s eyes and needs.

Variance: A deviation from a standard, a delay, a malfunction, a foul-up, or any unplanned event that has a negative impact on the desired outcomes of the system. Conditions that impede the conversion of input into output if they go awry.

Value Chain: The structure of a traditional (non-platform) business, in which a firm first designs a product or service, then manufactures the product and offers it for sale or puts in place a system to deliver the service. At the end of the value chain a customer purchases the product or service. This step-by-step arrangement for creating and transferring value can be viewed as a value chain, with producers at one end, distributors in the middle and consumers at the other. This model of business is in comparison to a platform model (see platform definition).

Value Proposition: The organization’s unique combination of qualities that differentiates it from others. A capability, service, feature or benefit intended to attract desired customers and grow market share.

Whole System Change: A large scale intervention to achieve radical and transformational organizational or ecosystem change. It requires engaging all the key stakeholders to increase the likelihood of success and to consider key interactive elements of the system to avoid unintended negative consequences. It involves consideration of all three STS perspectives: socio-ecological, socio-technical and socio-psychological. (See also Ecosystem)

Work Design: Job design (also referred to as work design or task design) is the specification of contents, methods and relationship of jobs in order to satisfy technological and organizational requirements as well as the social and personal requirements of the job holder or the employee.

Work team: A configuration in which each group is responsible for an in term product in the overall conversion process and individuals are responsible for being effective team members: in socio-technical design, cross training and self-management are encouraged.

Work system: A system in which people and/or technology perform transformation (processes and activities) using information, technology, and other resources to produce products/services for internal or external customers. The work system framework within which the social and technical subsystems convert inputs into outputs in the context of an environment.

No definitions currently available.

If you’d like to add a definition to Our Living Lexicon, please submit your request via the contact form below!

Have a suggestion for a term to be added? Send us an email!

13 + 9 =