In this post, I’ll try to explain how agile structure, which based on familiar and very successful structures around us, can be leveraged to create successful teams and organizations.
Atoms and molecules that are the foundation for everything around us, they are also the foundation for an agile structure for organizations. In a nutshell, the concept sees Atoms as groups in organizations and molecules as a group of groups that can grow to tissues and a living organization.
The basic parts of an organization are people. In our proposed structure, people can be protons, neutrons, or electrons. Atoms are built from protons (positively charged), neutrons (natural) and electrons (negatively charged). Protons and neutrons form the nucleus of the atom, they are connected using strong bonds. Electrons are orbiting around the nuclease, they are more loosely bonded to protons and neutrons. Those three particles make an atom.
We suggest that a group will be created from protons and neutrons as the core (or nucleus) of the group, and from electrons that will orbit around the core. People need not be negative and positive charged. They need to have different skillsets and different personalities that create more tight or loose bonds.
Inherently a group should be made from people that are more committed to the group and people that will orbit around, supporting and taking part in some activities of the core team. People that play the role of the neutron should have personality and skillsets that get alone with more dominant “protons” in the group. One other element that we copy from atoms is that the number of people who are playing the role of electrons should be equal to the number of people that are playing the role of a “proton”.
Building groups following the above principle create agile, yet stable and top-performing teams. The main drawback is that in a system created by man, a man needs to spend time and effort to keep those rules running. If you have the time and nerve to leave a group to be self-organized, you’ll find out that they will follow the same rules above.
The people that have less strong bonds to the atom (”electrons”) are very important in creating a group of groups. Electrons are shared between different atoms in variations of chemical (level of) bonds. The loose connections of electrons to the nucleus enable them to join other atoms and to create molecules. When creating groups of groups is more important to follow this logic rather than defining artificial connections using hierarchical lines.
Regardless of the hierarchical structure, some people are participating in some groups. They create informal groups of groups. On top of that, the hierarchical system expects a leader of a group (which is a crucial part of the group core) to spend time in other groups. Not necessary the right model.
My experience taught me that creating a group of groups based on involving people in different groups as “electrons” creates a very agile, adaptive, and effective group of groups. It takes more time and effort to implement such a structure rather than just set hierarchical structure, but it deferentially worth the effort. Especially in complex business environments.