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Five Org Design Things N° 3
By Clay Parker Jones profile image Clay Parker Jones
5 min read

Five Org Design Things N° 3

Conditions for a team; Measuring team effectiveness; Chautauqua; New customer relationships mean new responsibilities; Why do companies exist; The Shift Index.

Conditions for a team

One, is the group a real team, with clear boundaries, interdependence among members, and at least moderate stability of membership over time? Two, does the team have a compelling direction, a purpose that is clear, challenging, and consequential–and that focusses on the ends to be achieved rather than the means the team must use in pursuing them? Three, does the team’s structure–its task, composition, and core norms of conduct–enable rather than impede teamwork? Four, does the team’s social system context provide the resources and support that members need to carry out their collective work? And five, is competent coaching available to help members get over rough spots and take advantage of emerging opportunities, and is such coaching provided at times in the team life cycle when members are most ready to receive and use it?

Not too dissimilar from the Spotify diagnostics. Great, wiggly phrasing, too. Via Stowe.

Read more: What makes for a great team?

Team effectiveness

  1. The productive output of the team (that is, its product, service, or decision) meets or exceeds the standards of quantity, quality, and timeliness of the team’s clients–the people who receive, review, and/or use the output. It is clients whose views count, not those of team members, except in those relatively rare cases when the team is the client of its own work.
  2. The social processes the team uses in carrying out the work enhance members’ capability to work together interdependently in the future. We define as effective only teams that are more capable as performing units when a piece of work is finished than they were when it was begun (Hackman, 1987, 1990, 2002; Hackman & Wageman, 2005).
  3. The group experience contributes positively to the learning and well-being of individual team members, rather than frustrating, alienating, or de-skilling them.

We’re in the middle of taking a fun team-effectiveness survey right now, based on some of the work in this paper by Ruth Wageman, J. Richard Hackman, and Erin V. Lehman. They offer the above criteria for team effectiveness, which I’ll translate out of academese below:

  1. High-quality output, as judged by the team’s customers
  2. More capable as a team than when they started working together
  3. Makes significant positive contributions to the lives of the individuals on the team

Good stuff. Use it!


The world of work is changing at an accelerating pace, paired with the enormous upheavals in society, the economy, and the world at large. Uncertainty and ambiguity is systemic, and it is harder than ever to assess risk, predict economic trends, or even to know who to listen to. We are being forced to adapt to a new era, the postnormal, and our personal lives, organizations, and work will never be the same.
Chautauqua is an open community investigating the future of work, cooperating to find and advance new ways of working together, to redefine our connection to work and each other, and ultimately, through that, to change the world.

There’s a fun thing happening now – or about to happen – where companies and individuals sign on to open movements, adopt constitutions or principles, and share guidance within a likeminded group. I’m not saying this is *exactly* that – Holacracy is closer – but it feels close to it.

See what I’m talking about.

New customer relationships mean new accountabilities

Read more here

The lines are a lot blurrier between who is a customer and who is a creator. It used to be it was pretty easy, right?

Gabe Newell, talking about a core shift in business, and how it has come to life at Valve.

This sounds a little bit touchy-feely granola, but it’s pretty concrete: When you have kids making six figure incomes making art assets inside the framework that you created and they’re able to sell digital goods and services around the world, it’s pretty concrete that you have to recognize that you are in a partnership with your customers. It’s always a collaboration.

We got a question about uptime at a conference a couple weeks back. “If nobody signs a contract at Valve that says they have to keep five nines, how do you absolutely ensure reliability?” By deeply connecting customers to the core of your business. Pull. Don’t push.

Why do companies exist?

Why Do Companies Exist?
If you follow the logic laid out by historians such as the late Alfred Chandler, who wrote classics like Scale and Scope and Strategy and Structure, companies exist to exploit the benefits of being big. They exist, in other words, to maximize efficiency at scale. The experience curve nicely represen…
Our economy is chock-a-block with businesses that exist to maximize efficiency at scale. Businesses presuming predictability in order to push out mass produced products supported by mass marketing programs…relying on command and control in a world that’s increasingly difficult to command or control…losing their leadership positions at an ever-faster rate because they continue to push in a world gone pull.
Yes, the death of command and control has been greatly exaggerated for years now. The early prognosticators, however, mistook the lead times required for deployment of the new digital infrastructure. They also missed how long it would take to develop the new social and business practices needed to harness the capabilities of our new infrastructure–capabilities that are only now becoming visible on the fertile edges of business and society.

Very important “Why?” article. Heads been talking about corporate adaptivity since the ’70s, but digital technology makes it real.

The Shift Index

There is a growing mismatch between the old frameworks and practices that many companies use and the structures and capabilities required to be successful in a rapidly changing environment.
Companies are…bottlenecks to the efforts of all of us to harness more of the power of pull—the ability to get better faster as more and more people participate in pull platforms that help us to draw out people and resources when we need them and where we need them. By working together to reengineer our institutions, we have an opportunity to unleash more of our potential and tap into the increasing returns made possible by ever-expanding flows of knowledge.
We can choose to participate in flows of knowledge rather than hold tightly to static stocks of information whose value is rapidly diminishing. Certain institutions are already starting: by scaling edges; redesigning their work environments; cultivating worker passion; and bringing smaller, proven successes back to the core of their business.

All of this.

I'm pretty sure this article is gone now, but you can find the same ideas in here.

By Clay Parker Jones profile image Clay Parker Jones
Updated on
Organization Design Five Things