The importance of organisation architecture

We are used to talking a lot about Organisation Structure in prevailing literature. I believe Organisation Architecture is more fundamental and instrumental in taking the company to the distances they desire. Organisation Structure, to me, is a subset or a component of the Organisation Architecture.

So what do I think of as the Organisation Architecture?

The Organisation Architecture is one that encapsulates the vision of the company, the direction in which the leadership of the company wants to proceed, and the culture that they want to inculcate such that they would get there.

One of the companies I have known said it thus, “We want to go from 4 big ships to a 1000 speed boats (each being a point product from the platform products they were known for), achieved through the means of small, self-contained teams that identified market opportunities, built and shipped the products, and generated business from those”.

While this may read as yet another vision/mission statement, what was implicit in this statement was that they laid out the direction and way of how they will execute it. In essence, it was an architecture on top of which you could have specific manifestations of “applications” that would work harmoniously by themselves and among themselves.

Such an organisation’s architecture gives great latitude for the leadership team to execute on specific initiatives as they identify market opportunities. It gives the company agility to tackle opportune situations and be ready to capitalise on serendipity.

When you look around, every company starts off wanting to be “something”, pivots along the way, and ends up striking pay dirt in another application, then scales or lets go of the opportunity. At all these inflection points, the company needs a fabric of people and mindset that supports a new direction or a change in direction. The organisation architecture enables one to do that.

What do you think?