- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Organizational structures that (dis) aggregate by design

New organizations, and old ones in the business of transforming themselves, would be better off learning by heart these two words: aggregation – disaggregation.

This is the ability to create ‘transitional’ or ‘time-limited’ (dare I say even ephemeral) fit for purpose structures that aggregate people for a purpose and disaggregate as soon as a mission has been accomplished.

The concept is not new. Some organizations have used Tiger Teams and SWAT teams for a long time but it has mostly been a bit of an anomaly, and most of the time with an heroic-crisis-fixing goal and ethos.

I am talking here about normalizing aggregation-disaggregation as a form of transitional (proper) structure that brings brains and hearts for a reason, in a non-permanent  basis. Most new structures that we create have a permanent mission (or at least not the prospect of a relatively early disbandment). Organizational chart management (and reshuffling) is done mostly on hierarchical/reporting grounds.

Entire corporate functions, for example could host those temporary aggregations (effectively people in relatively short secondments) which could attract best brains and hearts that do not need to permanently ‘move house’. In particular people from the business side in operational functions. The difference with a Task Force is that these tend to become very bureaucratic and committee -style, whilst these aggregations are ‘for real and full time’ for the time frame decided.

Business organizations should look at the ‘movie studios’ model with different professions aggregated and coming together for a while, disaggregating as soon as an outcome is in place. It’s normal, nobody thinks the sky is falling, and you are called to arms if you are good.  By the way, the director is not fully in charge and the output is frequently not his or hers, but the editor’s. That is why there is something called ‘the director’s cut’ version, or the one they would have wanted. The producer has the money and has called the director but does not direct. The casting people bring the bodies but not the location, and the location people do the opposite. Composers work in parallel but don’t direct or edit. Script writers usually work as a mini group and produce the script that some directors, or indeed actors, often bypass. The actors act but only in their bits, they don’t sit around waiting. And special effects play with screens. And they produce a multi-million output.

Just imagine for a second this application in our traditional, permanent, stable, organization-chart-driven companies.  As many good disruptive ideas, the cost is anything from zero to minimal and the learning potentially huge.