Architecture that Learns

The OPO thinks about organizational architecture as a “template.” A template is something that helps you get started right away. A good template provides all the features you need, while allowing them to be customized. Another way to think about the OPO architecture is that it always represents the “current starting position,” which means the architecture “remains ready and able” to change form as the organization evolves. We will see later that the OPO is backed by a governance that is CRiSP — continually regenerating it’s starting position. The form of the organization, therefore, takes on the shape that best fits the current conditions and contexts, and is allowed to change shape as those conditions and contexts change. The architecture must remain both lean and agile. This is the new definition of “the learning organization,” — one in which the architecture has plasticity, enabling it to re-wire itself in response to change — the same way the plasticity of our nervous system enables us to learn.

In his series How Buildings Learn Stewart Brand begins by saying:

Buildings are the wealth of nations, our largest capital asset…. They are the wealth of cultures. And they are where we spend most of our lives. Some of our more arrogant and careless buildings are at war with time and change. They always lose. Some buildings though, seem to flow with time. They flow with us.

Like buildings that learn, a “template architecture” provides the OPO with a fundamentally sound framework that is able to flow in time. There will be periods when the architecture becomes embellished as well as times when it is necessary to peel back down to the basic framework of essential elements and build something new.

The OPO therefore has three main features:

  1. Based on principles of self-organization and open participation
  2. Fully integrated architecture, communications and governance
  3. Able to adapt and learn

Go on to learn about the building blocks of OPO: Locations and Network zones.