|ISSUE 5 - SPRING 2003|
Organizational Diagnostic "Molecular" Model
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The Organizational Diagnostics Molecular model is designed to be an effective diagnostic tool for organizational innovation practitioners. The model captures the key elements that make up Innovative organizations and uncovers their interactions and influences on each other. Developing a key understanding of these elements will allow a practitioner to analyze any organization and develop an approach for organizational change that will move that organization towards constant, self-sustaining innovation. While this model was originally conceived for use specifically in the context of organizational innovation, it has application in a very broad spectrum of Organizational Development contexts and issues.
Between January of 1998 and April of 1999, fifteen professionals from across the U.S., as well as from Canada and the U.K., came together to form the second class of the Innovation University Best Practices Fellowship. During five sessions, each in a different city, the team visited or heard presentations from roughly 20 of the most innovative organizations in the world including but not limited to Dell Computer, GSD&M, Nortel, Manco, Roberts Express, and Cirque du Soleil. Perhaps the most striking lesson we learned was just how much these disparate organizations had in common. Virtually every one of the organizations we visited displayed nine shared characteristics:
The conception of the molecular model was based on these observations and is an attempt of the team to distill the key learning in the form of a tool that would have broad applicability towards diagnosing and solving complex organizational issues.
Building the Organizational Diagnostic Model – One step at a time
The first step towards developing the model was to identify the key elements of an innovative organization. The team identified these elements to be those of Mission, Values and Culture.
Given the strong influence each of these elements have on each other and virtually every other aspect of an organization, we decided to place them in the center of our model and view them as the “nucleus” of our molecule.
Figure 1: “Nucleus” Elements
Our next step was to identify additional elements that play critical roles in an organization and the nucleus element that influences them most heavily. We identified these to be those of Systems, Structure, Strategy, Environment and Management style.
In our experience, Systems and Structure were most strongly influenced by Mission, Strategy was most strongly influenced by Values and Environment and Management style most strongly influenced by Culture. We represented these five additional elements in our model as orbiting their primary influencing nuclear elements.
Figure 2: “Orbital” Elements
Lets analyze each of these elements in detail.
The organizations we visited were living examples of innovative systems at work. When American Greetings decided to develop a line of topical cards, they realized that their usual product development system, which operates on an 18 to 20 month cycle, would simply not work. The new product development system cut that time down to approximately 6 – 8 weeks . The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago has developed 1, 2, and 3 day Imagineering Institutes as part of a methodology for generating ideas for new products and services and developing creative solutions to operational problems. These are marketed both internally and externally to other non-profits and small to medium companies. Dell University offers another example of innovative systems at work through the use of the company’s intranet to develop and foster a new learning model.