Designing People-friendly Organizations

March 11, 2014
Fellow, 2013-2014


Org Design - by Margaret Hagan - part 1 Org Design - by Margaret Hagan - part 2 Org Design - by Margaret Hagan 3Org Design - Margaret Hagan 4
Do you have ideas for how design thinking can be used to create more people-friendly organizations. Share them in the comments.

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  1. Ben Riddle

    Thanks for sharing! This is brilliant, and timely. I shared similar thoughts in a meeting about the future of higher ed institutions this morning.

    When focusing on bright spots and their movement-making efforts, how might the lifestyle of bike messengers serve as an analogy that points to the specific conditions that allow them to thrive? Sociologist Jeffery Kidder distills the messengers’ love for what they do into three things that keep ’em pedaling through adversity:

    1) The ability to affectively appropriate the spaces and places around them.

    2) The energizing of nature rituals, or shared experiences that turn the individual excitement of the workday into a collective emotional experience.

    3) The presence of social symbols, signals and signs, which are respected by others as “authentic” and reinforce why they do what they do.

    “The city, for the messenger, becomes a structure that does not dictate life, but enables new and unique practices. Authenticity for the messenger, therefore, is about more than just their labor. It is also about how they confront the entire world around them. With their urban cycling bike messengers affectively appropriate the city, and, thus, realize their agentic power over the environment. In doing so, they highlight the small scale ways that, even under the crushing force of international capitalism, those at the bottom are not powerless, but can eke out spaces of resistance.”

    Check out Kidder’s explanation of Lifestyle Messengers for more insight :

  2. angeliki

    I would really like to see some case studies (like the HBS ones) – applying’s and IDEO’s business design principles to real company problems.

  3. Nic John

    Thanks for the post. Some great leading thoughts and concepts here.

    Most organizations focus on structure as being the tool to implement strategy, and therefore to deliver organisational performance. However, both strategy and structure are contextualised by the environment within which the organization operates.

    Organizational culture interfaces with the environment and is the force which governs the beliefs and actions of all members of the organization. To create organisational performance, therefore requires the design of culture.

    The components of culture are values and beliefs, language and stories, symbols and artefacts, and actions and practice. These are elements design work is focused on all the time. Further, as culture is a deep human condition, the empathy based design process is THE process which is likely to create the most resounding and powerful change.

    The design of cultures represents the ultimate challenge for designers, but it is one which they should be able to undertake. Now more than ever we need to create organizations which provide people with meaning and fulfilment.

    I hope we can all rise to the challenge.

  4. Dan Pontefract

    Brilliant stuff! Absolutely fantastic.

    As an organizational culture change practitioner, researcher, writer and speaker … I love what yer up to.

    If you’d like a copy of my book that also details some of the key actions and changes I believe are important for an organization to be purposeful, collaborative and harmonious (Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization) just holler. Happy to share.


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