Building Organizations

Pattern 4.1: Delegate Influence

Decentralize power to influence within defined constraints. Enable people to decide and act for themselves in response to organizational drivers.

The delegator supports people in delivering value by:

  • defining domains of accountability and autonomy clearly
  • ensuring ongoing learning and development
  • providing support as needed

Adjust constraints incrementally, considering capabilities, reliability and outcome.

Decentralize as much as possible, retain as much influence as necessary.

Pattern 4.2: Circle

A circle is an equivalent, self-governing, and semi-autonomous group of people collaborating to account for a domain.

A circle:

  • may be permanent or temporary
  • may be self-organizing
  • is accountable for its own development and its body of agreements

  • semi-autonomous

    • a circle acts within the constraints of their domain
    • each circle can create value autonomously
  • self-governing:
    • a circle continuously decides what to do to account for their domain, and sets constraints on how and when things will be done.

Pattern 4.3: Role

Delegate accountability for a domain to individuals.

A role is an area of accountability defined by a domain and assigned to an individual (the role keeper), who has autonomy to decide and act within the constraints of the role’s domain.

The role keeper leads in creating a strategy for how to account for their domain, and evolves their strategy in collaboration with the delegator.

A role is a simple way for a group to delegate recurring tasks or a specific area of work to one of its members.

  • people can be in more than one role, and roles can be fulfilled by more than one person
  • role keepers are selected by consent and for a limited term
  • peers support one another to develop in the roles they fulfill

A role keeper may maintain a logbook and a governance backlog to evolve their approach towards delivering value.

Note: In S3, guidelines, processes or protocols created by individuals in roles are treated as agreements.

Role: one way to account for a domain

Pattern 4.4: Linking

Facilitate flow of information and influence between two groups.

A group selects one of its members to represent their interests in the governance decisions of another group.

Pattern 4.5: Double Linking

Facilitate two-way flow of information and influence between two groups.

Two interdependent groups each select one of their members to represent their interests in the governance decisions of the other group.

  • creates equivalence between two groups
  • can be used to draw out valuable information in hierarchical structures

Pattern 4.6: Representative (role)

Representatives (a.k.a. links):

  • stand for the interests one group in another group
  • are selected for a limited term
  • participate as full members in the governance decisions of the circle they are delegated to, and can:
    • raise items for the agenda
    • participate in forming proposals
    • object to agreements and proposals (when there is reason to do so)

Pattern 4.7: Helping Team

A group of people with the mandate to execute on a specific set of requirements defined by a delegator.

A helping team:

  • is a way for a delegator to expand their capacity
  • may be self-organizing, or guided by a coordinator chosen by the delegator
  • is governed by the delegator
  • benefits from a clearly defined domain

Members of the helping team:

  • can object to the delegator’s decisions that affect them
  • can add items to the delegator’s governance backlog
  • may be invited to select a representative to participate in the governance decisions of the delegator

Pattern 4.8: Open Domain

A way to intentionally account for a domain by invitation rather than assignment.

The delegator of the open domain clarifies:

  • primary driver, key responsibilities and constraints of the open domain
  • who is invited to contribute to the open domain
  • constraints relating to the delegator’s participation in the open domain’s governance

The delegator of the open domain is accountable for ensuring regular review of the open domain.

Depending on the constraints set by delegators, contributors may account for work and/or governance of the open domain.

Pattern 4.9: Open Systems

An organization can benefit from intentionally communicating with and learning from others.

Acknowledging its interdependence, an organization can consciously invite outside information, influence or skills to assist with making decisions and to support collective learning.

  • External experts can offer an outside perspective and bring knowledge, understanding and skills
  • Representatives of affected parties can inform and influence decision making in ways that benefit overall objectives (see Those Affected Decide)

Read next: Bringing in S3


© 2017 by Bernhard Bockelbrink, James Priest and Liliana David. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0