When asked, people give many reasons for a relationship. Somehow, the deeper you dig, the closer you get to the self. This should be obvious, because in absence of the self, a relationship cannot exist. The reason for any relationship is always to benefit the self in some way. Such benefit could be the availability of physical resources; psychological wellbeing; need for procreation; sense of duty; etc. The benefits of a relationship could be a myriad of things.
Org too has many relationships. E.g., connections with employees, customers, suppliers, competitors, owners, communities, etc. Yet, the relationship rules for Org is no different to the one's humans have. This is mostly because Org does not know that it is an entity. In so, the humans who manage Org, define its relationships. The effect is that Org's relationships are often riddled with emotion and beliefs.
In relationships, Org will always negotiate the most favourable position for itself since that would be the most intelligent thing to do.
If relationships must benefit us, then we will have a relationship ranking order. This could be conscious or unconscious. We rank things and people to prioritise. E.g., you might want to spend more time with your children than with your neighbour. That is a priority ranking. Therefore, all relationships are not equal.
If relationships have a ranking order, then proximity will show the relationship strength. This is because important relationships will be kept close. At the same time, less important relationships will drift further away.
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."by Mario Puzo – The Godfather
To understand a relationship, one must first distinct it from a relation. Also, by knowing the purpose of a relationship, one can depict it as a construct. From this point onwards one can relate it to the process- and project- constructs of Org. Such relation should give one the practical application value of a relationship construct. In this post, I discuss these items.
A relationship needs reciprocity. Hypothesis 2x defines reciprocity as the continuous interaction between projective and receptive forces. E.g., during a conversation one person might receive ideas that another projects. Unlike that, a relation is a proximity in terms of physical location or position within a hierarchy. E.g., being 3 meters away from a cliff or having a nephew, both show a relation. Yet, gravity has no relationship with me. I need gravity, but gravity does not need me. There is no reciprocity in the relation. Also, I am related to my nephew, but that does not mean we have a good relationship.
All relationships imply a relation, but the reverse is not true. In Org, an organigramme shows a relation that implies relationships. The same goes for all the stakeholders of Org.
All game theorists know the Nash equilibrium. It is a relationship "sweet spot". In this, no participant can gain by a unilateral change of position. That is on condition that the positions of the others stay unchanged. Of course, each party must know the equilibrium strategies of all other parties. In so, each party will negotiate a benefit in relation to the benefit of all other parties.
E.g. Jim donates 100$ to Susan and Pete, but Susan must divide the money and Pete must accept the division. If Pete refuses the division, both get nothing. Each person will want maximum benefit; thus, it makes sense that Susan takes 99$ and that Pete gets 1$. Pete has no claim to this dollar, so he is getting more than what he had before. Yet, similar experiments show that most people will not accept the dollar. They would rather lose it. Most would feel cheated and see the situation as unfair. Of course, they have no claim to anything. The money was a donation. This is what Org will have to deal with within its relationship construct. Relationships only partly function within the rules of logic.
An organigram or organisational chart are parts of a relationship construct. We can link people and departments because we can map them in such way. Unfortunately, employees are the only stakeholders that Org can control. When you are dependent on an entity, but cannot control it, your only option is to negotiate. This will be the case for as long as the relationship lasts. In so, a relationship construct is less predictable than the project- and process- constructs.
When depicting an organisational construct, one will use a diagram to show the proximity of entities. With the project and process constructs, any change goes through an approval process. Org can control that. Yet, that is just a small part of Org's relationship construct. Most of Org's relationships can change in an instant. In so, Org cannot have a permanent diagram for this. Especially not one that needs any form of approval. E.g., customers can decide to leave at any time, shareholders can withdraw at any moment, etc. Therefore, a relationship construct is difficult to depict. Below is an attempt at this.
We depict the internal construct of Org through an organigramme. Below are samples of functional, divisional, and matrix constructs. Many organisations use one of these, or a combination of them.
These constructs were all designed to enable human control over Org. In so, they have a parent-child hierarchy. Yet, currently about 60% of most organisations can run without any human intervention. Systems do not need human "command and control" structures. Algorithms drive them. In so, we will soon work in organisations that humans only partially control. In fact, this is already the case.
Organigrammes cannot depict the complexity that Org will need to survive the future. Therefore, I do not see them holding much weight in the nearby future. The way we currently depict internal constructs are extremely limited. E.g., The recruitment-, procurement-, and budgeting units all have the same task. They acquire resources for Org. Therefore, they are all working within the same process. I would love to see how one can depict that onto a A4 page using a two-dimensional diagram.
We are already in an era where the relationships of Org are too complex for any human to depict on paper. It is also already quite hard to draw the line between an internal and external relationship. Currently humans define the authority and proximity of an organisational relationship. I foresee a nearby future where systems will control this task. We see this with software such as Facebooks "Workplace". It links resources and activity with stakeholders without much human effort. This will free up human time to work with strategy, innovation, etc. Business intelligence systems will arrange activity and assign resources in the most efficient way. Humans must ensure that operations stay relevant. This will remain the status quo until systems do not need human consumption anymore.
It In future, the relationship construct of Org will be like the anatomy of humans. Every living person is connected to his/her anatomy for an entire lifetime. Yet, very few humans know how it works or what its construct is. In Org, it is the task of humans to define purpose and intent. From there, systems intelligence will organise its components.
A relationship infers the reciprocal satisfaction of needs. To create such a reciprocal order, Org must be purposeful to a community. In so, a community must be able to sponsor the existence of Org. A best-case scenario is where a community needs Org as much as Org needs them.
There is a simple formula that helps Org to work with its relationships. In this formula, we relate benefit to proximity. Benefit is the value that a relationship adds to Org. Proximity is the strength of a relationship – Is it close or reserved? When we grasp the benefit and proximity ratio of our relationships, we can deal with them.
One can apply the model in several ways. Most organisations already have the infrastructure. E.g., in a "for-profit" business, one can deal with each dimension as follows:
A relationship construct makes things real. You know that you are real because you can breathe and talk to others. Day to day, one must deal with things like gravity, lust, time, etc. An entity exists because of relations and relationships. The relationship construct of Org helps it to empower and influence its relationships.
A relationship construct defines both, efficiency, and effectiveness. The resources that the processes of Org use, will depend on what its stakeholders want. In so, relationships decide the efficiency of Org. Whether Org does relevant things, is an assessment that its stakeholders will make. In so, relationships decide the effectiveness of Org. Where the relationship- and process- constructs intertwine, Org defines its efficiency. Where the relationship- and project- constructs intertwine, Org defines its effectiveness.
All work either repeats or stops, thus it is either a process or a project. The process- and project- constructs of Org defines its work. It creates the activity that consumes resources so that it can produce results.
The relationship construct of Org has the task to make its work meaningful. There is no point in operations or strategy if its results are not meaningful. Without relationships, Org has no meaning. Without a relationship construct, Org has little control over that which gives it meaning.
Jointly, the three constructs of Org, creates the Relevant and Performing Organisation (RPO).
All living things base their relationships on assumptions. Where those assumptions change, the relationship will follow suit. In Greek mythology there was a famous hunter called Actaeon. He always hunted with his devoted hounds. They all had names and they loved him. One day, whilst in the woods, he stumbled across the goddess of the hunt, Artemis. She was naked and bathing. Angered by Actaeon's staring, she casted a spell on him. It dictated that if he dared to speak, he would become a deer. Actaeon, confused about what just happened, called for his beloved hounds. This turned him into a deer. In so, his hounds did not recognise him, and tore his flesh to pieces. Where assumptions change, the relationship becomes something else.
Org must decide on the proximity and benefit of its relationships. A relationship construct holds assumptions on how close and beneficial relationships should be. This gives an ability to efficiently use resources. In turn, efficiency will enable Org to effectively negotiate its position. This is how leaders will move Org from good to great.
© 2020-01-18: Derek Hendrikz