Organisation design in focus: practice, theory, meaning

Organisation design in focus: practice, theory, meaning

A chance to explore organisational design more deeply at the EODF Annual Meeting: 17-18 October.


13 October 2014

A chance to explore organisational design more deeply at the EODF Annual Meeting: 17-18 October.

This coming week (17-18 October) Frances Abraham, Principal Consultant at the Tavistock Institute will be attending the EODF Annual Meeting in Amsterdam, and looking forward to re-engaging with this community which is providing a welcome arena for making sense of organisational design in our contemporary world.

Organisation and inter-organisation design is a long-established focus for us at The Tavistock Institute, through the years of developing and applying The Tavistock Institute’s socio-technical systems design and strategic choice approaches. In this year, which saw the passing of Jay Galbraith, the master of classic organisational design theory for many, the issues our clients and peers continue to bring us so often involve organisational design issues, even when their own preoccupation is, perhaps, culture or transformational change.

Current Tavistock Institute staff also bring their own disciplines to collaborating with clients and colleagues around this issue, including complexity theory and other post-modern theories of organisation. Like many of our peers in EODF we sometimes turn to organisational design theory because some issue of practice nudges the memory, when client issues presenting as one type of problem surprise us by unearthing another, or when just struggling to find meaning in the middle of seeming chaos.

This year, EODF is pioneering an electronic ‘Open Space’ technology, to generate topics and preoccupations from the community and which attendees will vote for; or not!

Frances has offered to open a conversation entitled: ‘From intention to emergence: action research in organisational design’. She is inviting other community members to think with her about how what happens in the space between intentions to change things and what eventually emerges, when space is held to facilitate hidden and neglected data to be put on the table when a full or wider set of stakeholders come together to share concerns and shape plans together. The process of trial and error in implementing plans, the revisiting of intentions and their revision may all be involved in eventual outcomes. The discussion might get on to the question of: what happens when the ‘theory in the mind’ of practitioners and stakeholders conflicts and does it matter? Or that might turn out to be just the intention of one party and what emerges may be something very different, surprising and enriching, even inspiring.

Find out more about the EODF Annual Meeting in Amsterdam.

You can find out more about Frances’ work at the Tavistock Institute here.

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