Several successful global enterprises that are agile, innovative and quality-driven are built on ‘learning economies’ rather than the traditional logic of ‘scale economies’.
Research attests to the new phenomenon of flourishing knowledge-centric global enterprises operating like a school of fish in dispersed and permeable manner. We have observed that the knowledge-era firms are drawing strengths from their organizational architecture that combines flat, flexible and lattice like (matrix) structure, and learning and innovation-driven team culture.
Kaleidoscopic organizational design will enhance the dynamism and information processing capacity required to implement school of fish strategy. This mode enables an organization to continually renovate resources, seek op-portunities across markets
Kaleidoscopic design not only captures the agile & learning orientation of knowledge-economy enterprises, but it also embodies their creative and innovative spirit. To complement the school of fish strategy, structure and culture should render the kaleidoscopic reflectivity, modularity and diversity.
Scale-economy industrial giants, however, have grown older. Their strategies displaying myopic tendencies and organizations lacking information processing capacity to handle uncertain business environments due to bureaucratic lethargy, attrition and entropy. Large integrated structure and rigid culture inhibit their adaptation to dynamic changes in technologies and markets.
A firm will have limited choices if it cannot adapt to market dynamism, resulting in sub-optimization of resources, direct collision with competition, price wars, and entropy (i.e. depletion of organizational energy & resources).
Kaleidoscope as Metaphor
Kaleidoscope is a simplest system one can imagine; how-ever, it is capable of creating most complex and infinite number of patterns; in a creative sense, it personifies unlimited potential. It embodies a metaphor for flux, changing and seamless nature of markets and organizations.
and industries, and continually redraw its boundaries.
To implement this design, certain principles required for organizing information, task, technology, resources and employees. Kyocera and WL Gore Associates exemplify the shoaling strategy with kaleidoscopic organization.
W L Gore Associates: W L Gore Associates is an exemplary knowledge-era firm that illustrates how to organize a large firm with small company thinking. Gore Associates has a flat lattice (prism like mesh) organization comprising hundreds of decentralized but net-worked small teams. W L Gore boasts of having no traditional organizational charts, no chains of command, and nor it has programmed channels of communication. Team units are organized around business opportunities and projects with complete autonomy. Employees are treated as ‘Associates’, and Bosses are considered ‘Sponsors.
Kyocera Ceramics: The organizational structure of Kyocera Ceramics, Japan offers an interesting example of how a large global corporation of the size of 70,000 people with $14.5 billion revenue can be designed as a collection of small, customer focused business units. Kyocera’s organization structure is known as Amoeba management system or Inamori way developed by its founder Kazuo Inamori, has more than 3000 amoebas (small units), with each unit empowered to operate independently at the same time encouraged to collaborate with other amoebas to achieve synergy and profitable growth. Kyocera believes that this style of management spurs market agility, enhances customer service and entrepreneurial drive, and has helped the company to effectively manage dynamic technology environments.
Following six principles are necessary for implementing kaleidoscopic design.
1. Reflectivity & Absorptivity: Organization should have absorptive boundary and high reflectivity for exchanging information and re-sources effectively across and within.
2. Modularity & Connectivity: Organizational systems need to be modular to connect and collaborate within and outside.
3. Diversity: Organization must allow for convergence of diverse ideas and people.
4. Renewability: Fostering organization culture seeking change & renewal.
5. Symbiosis & Synergy: Design the organization to build synergy through
symbiosis among units & processes.
6. Balanced Performance Goals: Organization must set Fair, Ethical, Balanced Goals.