Requisite Organization

Aligning managerial accountability with human capability

Organizations can be construed as stratified human systems with vertical alignment of positions into a hierarchy of (a) tasks, (b) positions, (c) position relationships or reporting relationships, and (d) differential pay based upon some measure of work complexity, e.g., job evaluation.

A position is a role within an organization that has clearly described accountabilities, authorities, and requirements and has a differential complexity.

Roles are defined parts of a human system; they carry a name and related expectations, e.g., parent or manager.

Human systems are composed of people and their roles.

A system is a set of interrelated parts with a boundary separating it from its environment; it has inputs, throughputs, outputs, and feedback systems.

Organization design involves the relationship of an organization to its environment and the interrelationships of its parts. It answers the question, “How does the organization function?”

A variation of this question is, “How will the organization meet its purpose?” which includes the question, “What is its purpose?”

Elliott Jaques’ Requisite Organization (RO) is a well-researched model for organization design.

RO is a model that is descriptive and provides a reasonable representation of reality.  It is also prescriptive, so it can be useful in decision-making and prescribe different actions for different circumstances. The model is based on reasonable and cohesive theory; supported by research, validity, and reliability; and used in organizations and demonstrated expected results.

RO work starts with an assessment and clear accountability for the organization design initiative. The continually answered question is whether or not to intervene.

The organization design initiative employs a change readiness model looking at power, motivation, and skill factors.

The power element requires the head of the unit to be committed to the improvement and to have sufficient flexibility to make changes. An understanding of the broader organization is helpful.

Motivation is based on the assumption that if the issue is substantive and needs to be addressed, and the head of the organization is driven to achieve excellence, then it will be seen and appreciated that organization design is fundamental to performance.

Skill can be brought into the organization, or it can be developed within the organization.

Background information is gathered by inquiry into the context of work in which the accountable manager works, including the market, customers (e.g., through customer satisfaction surveys), products, and services.

Requisite Organization and Hierarchical Task Structure

From moment-by-moment actions, choices, and decisions to the timeless mission of creating (or stewarding) abundance, we can organize human action into a hierarchical structure of tasks.

At the first level, we have the task, which in the context of work organizations has to be regulated through standardization, affording application control. (Control) 

Tasks are part of processes, which have to be regulated by systematization, affording alignment of operational processes towards outcome. (Align) 

Processes are integrated into functions to afford coordination of operational functions toward integration, and alignment toward outcome, as well as to afford coordination for integration of operational processes and functions. (Integrate) 

{Functions are coordinated into a strategy to afford coordination/alignment of strategic direction with operational integration.}

To jump ahead or up, the uppermost stratum is the philosophy defining the congruent whole and providing the fundamental values, principles, and assumptions.

From philosophy will emanate doctrine, providing a vision of the desired state, present and future.

A vision is realized through policy, a course or principle of action adopted, built and generated through scenario planning, simulation, microcosmos generation, prototype building, or just conservative holding to what came before. The policy stratum will observe the emergence of future environmental conditions and expand adaptability and capabilities in line with organizational goals.

The quality of a policy can be characterized by the scenarios it can be applied to.

We have tasks and processes at the concrete operational level and policy, doctrine, and philosophy at the abstract aspirational level.

The aspirational will be grounded into the operational through strategic intent, direction, and alignment, and functional integration, coordination, and commitment.

The coordination of functioning is operational integration.

The coordination of strategic direction with operational integration is strategic alignment.

Or, the alignment of strategic direction with operational integration is strategic coordination.

Leadership is what is going on around here at the strategy and operational functioning levels (stratum III-IV-V).

Tasks produce outputs. They have performers. Individuals, dyads, or groups and teams perform tasks. A task may be comprised of steps or sub-tasks. The quality of a task can be characterized by the standardization of the task. The complexity of a task can be characterized by the degree/level of standardization it can be subjected to. The measurement and management question is, “How can we quantify the degree or level of standardization?”

Processes have outcomes. They are led by process leads.

The process-lead has the inward mandate to hold standardized tasks and outputs and the outward mandate to operate systematized processes toward outcomes.

The function or business unit (BU) head has the inward mandate of integrating functions and the outward mandate of creating abundance for the community. Integrating the functions encloses systematizing the processes.

The stratum III function head will integrate operational processes in addition to systematizing processes and standardizing tasks (or coordinate standardizing the tasks).

The stratum IV Business Unit head will integrate operational functions and integrate (or coordinate integrating) operational processes and systematize (or coordinate systematizing) processes.

The result of a task is an output. The result of a process is an outcome.

What is the result of a function? For now, let us say it is the growth-decay-equilibrium cycle. Aligned outcomes will produce temporarily sustained functioning.

Aligning processes results in aligned outcomes and affords coordination of integrated functioning (operation) through equilibrated-sustaining (or -sustenance) of aligned outcomes.

So, integrated functioning is what sustains aligned outcomes. Sounds circular but is very simple with an organismic understanding.

Functioning is a mechanistic metaphor. An organismic parallel could be the equilibrated sustaining of the unit with its natural cycle of discharge (duty) and replenishment (or resourcing in the sense of action-verb). Feed energy and information to the processes, thus coordinating, amplifying, or attenuating as necessary or as directed by the mandate of strategic direction. Receive and then use, store, or distribute outcomes of processes.

Equilibrated sustaining is a whole operation but meaningful only in the context of its environment, which is provided by its strategic mandate.

A task’s sense (meaning) is its contribution to the process. The sense (meaning) of a process is its contribution to the sustaining. The sense (meaning) of sustaining is its contribution to the strategic intent.

The larger whole is the human and natural community.