with Dr Philip H. Mirvis and Dr. Susan Albers Mohrman
Research and Insights Archive
Research and Insights from the Center for Effective Organizations
with Dr Susan Albers Mohrman, Prof Christopher G. Worley and Prof John Boudreau
with Dr. Philip Mirvis (Babson), Dr. Susan Mohrman (USC), and Professor Christoper Worley (Pepperdine)
The STARLab acronym “Socio-technical Action Research Lab” points to a specific type of lab which is designed to create socio-technical action research. This paper outlines the distinctive features of the socio-technical action research lab. First, it outlines the ideas that provide a foundation for STARLab, along with the essential concepts of tacit knowledge and design thinking. Next, it provides a brief background of the origin of the design lab methodology. Last is a description of how the lab works – planning, environment, and process.
The STARLab (Socio-Technical Action Research Laboratory) addresses the gap between the rapid advances in digital technology and the slower evolution of the social systems that are being impacted. Technology advances carry the potential to fundamentally change the nature of work, of the employment relationship, of organizations, and of societies. STARLab’s goal is to accelerate the generation of knowledge about how to design socio-technically integrated organizations to simultaneously address economic and human needs.
This document summarizes eight specific organization design challenges facing companies attempting a digital transformation, and describes prototype solutions and responses to seven3 of these challenges. It also presents an integrated reflection on these solutions and an induced design scenario.
The STARLab “Scaling” Community of Practice met virtually (Zoom video conferencing) on three separate occasions during the first quarter of 2018. During these discussions, company examples and research findings were shared. A documented case was presented representing a successful “fast scale” approach to enterprise-wide adoption of a new business model and organization design. Community of Practice members found the case interesting and relevant but requested the journal article be leveraged into a fast scale methodology guide for the practitioner. This paper first discusses key points made in the scale community of practice, and then follows with a practitioner-based methodology for fast scale based on the case study. The appendix describes the initial STARLab research finding from members companies identifying scale as a key organizational challenge in driving digital transformation. A brief perspective is provided to the challenge.
The primary focus of business models and organization design has been on the enterprise or business unit. Organizations were defined as systems of activity or work that were deliberately structured and coordinated, boundary maintaining, and goal oriented. Boundaries were an important element of that definition, defining what was “in” the organization and what was “outside” the organization, and allowing managers to control work activities that created value. In particular, intellectual property, property rights, production processes, and employees were sources of competitive advantage and profits.
This challenge has to do with using digital technology to enhance organizational ambidexterity
Companies reported that designing and balancing efficiency and digital innovation is hard and fraught with tensions and conflicts. The two types of work produce radically different structures, designs and cultures, which are often contradictory in purpose and management.
These tools are intended to help raise awareness of the challenge and to provide useful guides to actions
This challenge has to do with spreading worthwhile digital innovations across the enterprise
Organizations are struggling to conduct four types of scaling activity: (1) rolling out optimized processes to the larger organization; (2) growing a start-up business to a full standalone P&L; (3) scaling agile units; and, (4) pushing a capability out to the value chain
These tools are intended to help raise awareness of the challenge and to provide useful guides to actions you can take to scale innovations
This toolkit was created for your use in helping your organization through digital transformation
It is based on the work of the STARLab, which brought companies together to discuss common challenges in digital transformation and prototype solutions, including organization redesign
The toolkit was created by members of the STARLab team based on the thinking of the participants and their own experience with digital transformation and digital sociotechnical redesign
This challenge has to do with aligning parts and units of the organization around a common digital transformation roadmap that addresses local and global digital investments
Leaders need to provide clear direction regarding what should be decided globally and what should be decided locally
These tools are intended to help raise awareness of the challenge and to provide useful guides to actions you can take to design a more coordinated approach to digital transformation