Sergio Caredda - Organisation Design is Architecture Design

Organisation Design is Architecture Design

Organisation Design is Architecture Design might be a bold title. The sentence is not mine and is a quote by Allan Kelly, a technology consultant expert in Agile. It captures a longtime belief I have consolidated over the past few years, about the innate necessity of collaboration and co-design between people- and technology experts. The cover image of this post shows how failures can happen.

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Table of Contents

  1. The Failure of Understanding Organisation Design
  2. HR and IT: Twins Separated at Birth
  3. The Role of Conway’s Law
  4. The Mirroring Effect
  5. Let the Twins Rejoin
  6. A Conversation Effort
  7. References

The Failure of Understanding Organisation Design

As I was writing the review of Team Topologies by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais, I found myself furiously writing about three pages of content that did not match, in reality, a book review. So here it is as a separate article. As I already wrote in the review, this book crystallizes the failure of Organisation Design as a discipline that HR should master. The authors ask themselves, “How much awareness does the HR department have about software systems?” Then argue that “we need to involve technical people in organization design because they understand key software design concepts. “

A significant logical connection, even more, marks the failure.

More than ever I believe that someone who claims to be an Architect needs both technical and social skills, they need to understand people and work within the social framework. They also need a remit that is broader than pure technology – they need to have a say in organizational structures and personnel issues, i.e. they need to be a manager too.

Allan Kelly, Return to Conway’s Law (2006)

I think this could be seen from another perspective as well. At its highest abstraction level, an Enterprise Architecture (which an Architect should be responsible for) should be fully aligned to an organisation’s Operating Model. Which means that we should be able to turn the above quote upside down.

More than ever, I believe that someone who claims to be an HR leader needs both social and technical skills, they need to understand the technology and work within the architectural framework of the organisation. They also need a remit that is broader than pure people management.

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