Locations — the building blocks of the OPO

The OPO is built on the notion of “location.” A location is occupied by teams and team members. Locations can also be thought of as “houses,” since, like real houses, they co-evolve with their occupants, who design them for certain purposes (and not others) and improve them and add value to them. In fact, “locations” are the “virtual asset” of the OPO. A start-up company, for example, can create an asset by designing a location that attracts talent. “Location” here means an opportunity to produce value by contributing values and skills in the context of an operational framework (i.e. location).

Locations are virtual assets

Locations reflect self-organizing processes

Locations are delineated by the performance, objectives and values that uniquely characterize them. Locations co-evolve with the teams and people who occupy them. Therefore the values in a location are an emergent outcome of the intentional-motivational states of the members, the objectives set out in the location emerge from the role-identities of its members, and the performance is an emergent outcome of the collaborative interaction of the members. In this way, locations are structured as a perfect reflection of the processes underlying self-organization which, as described in this post, can be formulated as 

intention x identity x interaction.

The more technical term for “location” might be “performance-objective-value zone;” a term which correlates with the three aspects of self-organizing processes., “interaction, identity-intention” (respectively) However, we usually leave out the middle term and just call the locations “performance-value zones.”

Two different zones

All locations therefore are “performance values zones;” but there are two distinct types of “zones” in the OPO: core, and network.

Core performance-value zones include all those locations where the key operations of the company are taking place. If you are a software development company, the developers occupy your core performance-value zones. If you are a footwear manufacturing company, your core performance-value zones might include where the footwear is manufactured and/or distributed. If you are software resale company, your core zone will be occupied by a salesforce. It is important to be very very clear on what your core performances are. For example, if you merely distribute goods from another country, your core performance is not the manufacture of those goods, regardless of how you market yourself. Your core performance might be a call center, design shop, or distribution channel.

Network performance-value zones include all the other locations that are necessary and sufficient for the company to sustain itself, develop, improve and thrive. Whereas core performance-value zones are company-specific, there are a handful of network performance functions that are essential and universal to all modern organizations. The OPO categorizes these functions as Access, Adaptation, Support and Incubation. (We will learn more about them further on in this article)

Locations are fractal

Locations exist at different scales in the organization: organization, zone, team, individual. The Vision, Mission and Values of the organization specify the highest level, as they represent the performance, objectives and values of the organization as a whole. Each core zone and network zone is also specified by its own performance-objectives-value set that is common to all the teams that occupy the zone. In turn, each particular team will have its own performance-objectives-value set; and finally each member of each team specifies their individual performance-objectives-value set.

Every location delineates a unique organizational address

We can uniquely identify every individual in the organization as the set of fractal addresses that the individual occupies. For example, if I am the # 8 member of team # 4 in core value zone # 2, my specific address is CVZ.02.04.08. This ability to have unique organizational addresses at all levels of scale is critical in tracking changes during organizational transformation. (See figure 1)

figure 1

Continue to learn about the Network Zones.