An organization, of whatever type, is the composition of nodes related by associations. If these nodes are eliminated, what remains is structure, which exposes the interactions. What is important in any ensemble is not those nodes, but the ascending, descending and transversal chain of interactions.

A human ensemble always has a hierarchy. In its most primitive form, they gather around a leader who exercises dominion by force, i.e., a horde. The hordes are weak because they depend on  leadership exercised coercively and emanating from a single individual, therefore, they group a discrete number of people, usually no more than thirty. These communities had very close kinship ties and lacked a stable place of residence.

As human societies evolved towards the Neolithic, they domesticated cereals and learned to preserve them. This had a consequence that implied a form of radical innovation for human development: the “surplus”. The surplus makes possible to plan, anticipate and accumulate available resources to free individuals from work so that they can devote their efforts to activities other than food production. Thus arose the castes of rulers, priests and soldiers.

These individuals weave the structure around permanent physical enclaves called “villages”, social structure is vertical, with ties that are no longer primarily blood ties, but with a complex stratified structure. Dependencies, relationships and the way in which they are respected and enforced arise.

A company has a similar structure, with relationships, communications and hierarchies that are both explicit or formal and informal or implicit. People maintain elaborate associations with each other within the corporate structure based on one key concept: loyalty.

Loyalty, going upwards, is called discipline, and it is the basis on which any organization, from military to business, functions. The decision-making process must be clear, unique and unquestionable, because, at times, orders must be given or received that must be carried out as indicated, and at that point there must be no room for the nuance of private preference or democracy.

Loyalty, going downwards, is called leadership, one of Keepler’s values. It is the counterpart of the previous one; respect for decisions is only understood when there is total trust in the process and the chain of authority. 

Loyalty, sideways, is called companionship. Companionship is born of solidarity, another of Keepler’s values, and is nurtured, in difficult times, by selflessness, giving up one’s own interests for the benefit of others. That is why it is important to preserve, protect and encourage the cohesion of teams and their continuity in different purposes or objectives.

Loyalty to the institution, and therefore to its values and identity, is called honour. Only a code maintained and inherited by experienced members can sustain an organization that, as a whole, must be more than the sum of its members. This complex set of individuals and relationships is maintained by the scaffolding of values that govern it. These real values, when not feigned, imposed or officially described, are created and transmitted by the people who are the articulating ball-and-socket joints of the complex flows of initiatives and who are positioned as people of intermediate categories. The weight of the institution resides in them because they are the channels through which a greater volume of information, communications and partnerships are directed.

Companies are complex groups where decision making must not be consensual but executed within a domain, according to a hierarchically delegated responsibility and authority.

Our third value; at Keepler we strive to make evident and transparent the responsibilities and areas where each role exercises its authority. In this way, the decision-making workflow is simplified and the execution of tasks clarified as it is always clear who must execute them within the individual responsibility. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is the basis of order and the simplest method of finding what we are looking for; in the same way a system based on members, with their responsibilities, authority, domain, strategy and explicit policies simplifies and orders, also, the development of operational activities in a company.

These processes and structure are tirelessly reviewed within a process of continuous improvement, as Keepler’s fourth and final value states, which allows us to examine each initiative we undertake and refine it in order to continue striving for excellence.

 

Image by Rawpixel

Author

  • Scrum Master en Keepler. “Working with people to build products that solve problems. Digital transformation is the new industrial revolution based on the fractal creation of team-based development systems. I collaborate with companies to understand problems and develop solution strategies.”