Most of the top leaders in thinking about organization design were there including: Mike Tushman, Jay Galbraith, Ray Miles, Carliss Baldwin, David Alberts, Chuck Snow, Ray Levitt, Rich Burton, and Mike Beer. Here are some highlights. (Any errors in attributions or interpretations are mine. Still learning to read my notes.)
Tushman. Important time in history of organization design. More organizations are needing strong centralization but low integration. Gave example of OK Go that could achieve more independently than within corporate structure because of power of youtube. Locus of innovation shifting from ad agencies to communities. Example: Doritos commercial contest. NASA solved an "insolvable" problem by posting challenge on the web. From 600 entries, found 11 solutions. Web communities are "competency destroying" processes of change.
My thought: How can your business harness power of web communities to improve your organization's effectiveness?
Alberts. Not enough to be effective and efficient. Organizations must be agile. This is a proactive, not reactive term. Flexibility is more reactive. Organizations must develop structures that are nimble, work with other organizations, make sense.
My thought: Need to read Alberts book on org agility. This is a good point for organizations and for individuals. Personal agility should lead to personal growth.
Baldwin: Brilliant analysis of Apple iphone vs Google organizational networks. Apple controls design and design components and largely outsources rest.
My take-away: Modularity in design is key to agility.
Galbraith. Importance of the law of requisite variety. Results in fragmentation in environment and in organizations. Dual reporting becoming more common. Example: P & G, heavily matrixed. Software is key to more integration. Peanut butter manifesto. More complex the structure, more important the processes. At heart of all networks is software integration.
My thought: I think Henri Fayol got it right. One boss -- not two. Unity of command. VP of IT should be on senior executive team.
Levitt: Great examples of organizational simulations predicting organizational outcomes. Commented ERP systems (enterprise resource planning) can constrain organizations.
My thought: Studies suggest ERP systems usually do not achieve results intended. I think this is (1) structural and (2) the difficulty of managing cultural change.
Rich Burton: Some good quotations in summing up:
"The future ain't what it used to be", Yogi Berra
"The fundamental things apply / As time goes by", Herman Hupfeld
The Organization Design Community has launched the Journal of Organization Design, now in its second issue. The journal is intended for both academics and practitioners. It was a very good, and I think important conference - and I enjoyed seeing HBS.
"A classroom building at Harvard Business School." ©John Ballard, 2012