The Triangle Will Help You Transform Your Workplace Structure

Our workplace structure can be a real obstacle to executing strategy or to changing organizational culture. It is more often then not, the one major attractor stopping us from reaching our preset goals, the sustained change we want or solving a critical problems standing between us and our future growth. It can make us see only obvious patterns and miss out altogether on the hidden Gorilla

MUCH have been said and written about the gaps between the old fashioned structures, that served well work and business so far and the needs of today’s changing economy and the future of work. The one I like most is written by Aaron Dignan, founder of The Ready.

Much less, however, have been said and written about how to enable most working places and organizations, which are still traditionally organized in org-charts, to transform their structure to a new agile and adaptive structure or to just test their ability and capacity to do so.

“Every startup begins as excellent small team — the trick is building in the right processes and communication discipline to ensure that you maintain that as you grow, becoming a larger team of teams instead of a slow-moving corporate bureaucracy.”
Gen. Stanley McChrystal

I want to offer you an experiment that will allow your businesses to test this transformation. The idea is based on the principle of Triadic Closure taken from graph (networks) theory.

Hey, don’t close up because of this academic like jargon! there is a simple implementation recipe coming up!

First of all it is important to understand that a hierarchical structure is a network too, it is just that the network is very centralized. So the transformation from an ‘org-chart’ structure to a ‘team of teams’ structure is not one from non-network to A network structure but a move between two networks structures.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s Team of Teams

Second, we should be looking at these networks from June Holley’s ‘Network Weaving’ perspective. This means the idea that networks can be consciously designed and transformed by our deliberate actions. And so we need to do some things when we transform from one network structure to another.

Enters the triangle.

As a first action, I encourage you to use the Triadic Closure principle to deliberately create triangles within your current workplace structure. How many of them depends on the size of your business. But try to have at least three and maybe not more then seven or eight, so that you can still have some knowledge on what is going on.

Applying the ‘Triadic Closure’ to your organization

This is how you start to experiment with teams within your current structure and without making any big revolutions. The best way to test these teams is to give them a problem to solve. Teams are formed around a mutual task and as these triangles teams are not familiar with each other you can even give a few teams the same problem to solve or question to answer. Give them a limited time to get back to you which needs to be not too short so they can form a working process without taking them away from their current tasks. Maybe even give them small budgets to spend on experimentation. Make sure that resources allocation is limited and these experiments are ‘safe to fail’ meaning if they fail they won’t cause much harm.

The next step is to communicate with the teams and monitor their process and eventually scale their work (as a team or the work they did) or dump it. I guarantee that this experiment will provoke many new conversations and many new ideas for your business.

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