The visual decision-making structure is the foundation of an agile network organization. The organization is visualized through the network of Pulse meetings in the Pulse room.
“Let me show you our organization” are words you might hear when first meeting a company as a job seeker or potential business partner. The picture that is oftentimes shown is that of a hierarchical structure.
You can see which departments are organized under the CO and the different staff. If you look closer, the names of managers and personnel appear. The organization that is shown is based on people and their relationship towards each other. However, today it’s rare that a single boss can make all of the important decisions; instead they are made during board meetings.
Hierarchical Linear Organizations
The organization chart doesn’t show what discussion forums already exist. You can only vaguely imagine a management team and departmental meetings. Additionally, cross-functional meetings that are necessary for the organization are missing.
Production might have planning meetings, quality service meetings and daily management meetings. Within projects there are project meetings, board meetings or a product board.
Besides daily management, these are not frequent meetings, maybe just weekly or monthly. They take place sitting around a meeting table with no aids besides presentations and summaries shown using a computer and projector.
When the projector is turned off, accumulated picture disappears. Since a hierarchical structure is dependent upon people developing the organization, individuals are supposed to carry the knowledge and decisions between meetings.
Here it’s possible to see big gaps in the structural level since the individuals move around in different spheres that don’t overlap and have a tendency to forget. It doesn’t help if individuals reappear in different meeting constellations when issues and decisions aren’t being shared between the meetings as well.
Information and feedback don’t flow through the organization; they tend to stop and get lost between different decision-making forums. This creates frustration since the meetings both take up a lot of time and the decisions are unclear or non-existent due to the lack of up-to-date information.
Visual Decision-Making Structure Using Pulse
With a network of Pulse meetings a visual decision-making structure is established in the Pulse room that has the capacity to make decisions quickly with the help of up-to-date information.
The Pulse meetings are frequent and are part of the same feedback loop in order to create a decision-making network that moves questions, decisions and information to the right forum. The Pulse boards are left after the meetings are over and remind the group and other parties of what decisions were made at the previous meeting and any new unfinished business.
The organization is constructed by institutions (the Pulse meetings) and the connections (questions, decisions and information) that exist between them. It’s this network that creates a visual decision-making structure.
The connections are partially supported by people yet Pulse boards have a crucial role to play. When a problem comes up it’s possible to take care of the problem by writing on a Post-it and putting it up on the appropriate Pulse board.
The Post-it will remain on the boards until the problem is dealt with and how the problem is being handled can be traced by looking at the board. Information and feedback flows through the decision-making network and is used daily by the participants of the meetings to act, interact and relay information.
The Pulse room, Pulse boards and the Pulse meetings create an integrated and continuing flow that processes information. In other words, the Pulse guide has created an agile network organization.