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Issue #2. Engaging people in a holomorphic organization

Cyril Lagrange
Cyril Lagrange
Measure the invaluable to make better decisions.
Most of what we need to know is invisible, so long we take an open and bold perspective to identify and measure it. Building leadership and innovation capabilities, changing behaviors, tapping immaterial assets are invaluable linchpins to grow sustainable human and business ventures.
#organization #design #decentralization #leadership #agile #kaizen #ISD #Institutsociodynamiqe

Hi Friends!
In response to complexity, face-paced business environment, and search for sustainable market growth, the usual boundaries of firms stretch to many stakeholders, inside and outside. With the advent of cheaper, collaborative IT solutions, case-centered digital capabilities, corporate people at any level increasingly face the challenge of expected autonomy, flexibility, and the quest for decentralized-decision expected to improve simultaneously the quality, cost, and speed of work and delivery.
“Freed organization,” Agile teams, and all sort of teams empowered with decentralized decision-making, share these tenets, both about the business environment to navigate and the target efficiency agenda. They also share the same organizational pattern coined holomorphic.
My recent and first participation in the online event Campus de l'Innovation Managériale, a think tank interested in management innovation, nudged me to consider a specific dimension of this pattern: ways to design and measure people engagement in that kind of organizations (note, I practice myself as an Agile change agent)
What is it?
Facing complexity, need for speed, or commitment to deliver with the highest standard of quality, organizations need to leverage a structured approach to adapt at a lower incremental cost, with mastery, and bringing out a sense of purpose to the people engaged in the adaptations.
Holomorphic is one of the general organizational patterns that solve the equation. Interestingly, Sociodynamics Institute maps out how the holomorphic pattern relates to other patterns with a tow-dimension relation analysis (Ego, on X-axis) and openness to partnering with others (Eco, on Y-axis). See below figure.
Source Socio-Dynamic Institute. Four Organizational patterns
Source Socio-Dynamic Institute. Four Organizational patterns
In complex analysis,
…a holomorphic function is a complex-valued function, defined and derivable at any point of an open subset of the complex plane.
In the realm of organizations or physical description of objects, each subset (e,g. teams or entities) is defined by the same pattern as its parent parts, which altogether aggregates into a whole governed by shared rules.
Setting up scalability
Holomorphic organizational patterns, when applied correctly, come with powerful benefits concerning development, business model adjustment, and more generally exploring new activities among large organizations at an incremental effort. Replications of a mastered pattern enable scalability.
Scalability is not akin to growing at the speed of light for the sake of speed, at any cost, or in a chaotic manner.
The reduced cost attached to developments and growth increased speed to grow or adjust. The capacity to deploy new sub-sets of a predefined pattern with more ease results from forethought, structured, and feedback-based approaches.
Then the people and decentralized decision-making are core, not the systems and methodologies.
People motivation drivers
On the individual level, Jean Christian Fauvet (Founder of the French Sociodynamic Institue in the 1970’s) defined the holomorphic organization as,
…an organization in which each person carries within him the immaterial form of the whole.
Hence, the individual carried responsibility, and how the organization creates nurturing conditions, measure, and adjustment people’s engagement for the sake of the whole, raise a management concern for the leaders. Five significant issues arise.
A misguided sense of urgency or speed
The Holomorphic pattern sets out the conditions to give people autonomy and decentralized decision-making so that most decisions are made by those who know and do things. Improved quality, people’s true empowerment, development, and retention of immaterial talent assets outcompete by far the imperative of speed or any crafted “urgency.”
Setting and updating responsibilities
Though decentralized decision-making and autonomy are expected to fuel efficiency in the short run, socially responsible companies and senior management need to keep setting and updating key roles. Indeed, commitment overrides status. SMART actions and experimentations provide invaluable returns beyond immediate P&L results. Organizational design led by change agents is still required to stem potentially chaotic evolutions.
Monitoring scope and level of engagements
When experimentations and explorations spawn all over the organization, keeping track of initiatives, alignment with the strategic plan, and consistency of the performance management and metrics architecture is vital. SMART action (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely), guiding investment guardrails, and open innovation horizons provide a robust and transparent framework to people to monitor their actions, assess achievements, and adjust.
Providing incentives on actual valuable impacts, not busyness
With increased autonomy comes the difficulty in monitoring individual activities and results. Busyness may grow to substitute interactions for actual impact on value drivers. A comprehensive alignment of strategic domains, people’s roles and actions, and their impact on changing value mitigate the risk. Measuring individual and team impact on value drivers in a wide range of corporate operations and innovation is a sophisticated task, outgrowing the computation of quantitative metrics.
Balancing project-based engagement with job description recurring tasks
No one can sustain having two jobs in a single day. One in a formal job description. The other one is often a poorly defined engagement reflecting a branded. Balancing comes in many ways. Some may allow employees to devote N% of working time to explorations and collective creative work. Other firms may choose specializing people across the line between operations and projects, with clear contracted terms. Others have decided to reserve a weekday for a whole part of the organization to dive deep with autonomy into whatever insights and decision-making would be beneficial.
Though it would be a vast endeavor to explore the variety of situations and specific success factors to implement that organizational pattern, socially responsible firms should create and maintain the relevant conditions for people motivation.
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I help clients solve open problems, create value beyond financials, and achieve greater agility, as a B2B professional consultant in business and digital transformation.

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Cyril Lagrange
Cyril Lagrange @lagrange_cyril

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