The Stadium Parable

The Stadium Parable
Mapping the Whole Organization

The "Stadium Parable" provides a metaphor for mapping and visualizing organizations as complex networks.

At a time when large organizations:

  • Depend on contractors, partners, and vendors for key functions

  • Assign people with matrix (dotted-line) reports next to those with solid-line reports, and

  • Make use of teams and other groups for complex operations, then…

Simple box-and-wire org charts no longer give true picture of formal enterprise, real leadership, true workflow dynamics, or built-in connections that come with each job

Context: 21st-century realities of global interdependencies, near-ubiquitous connectivity, and accelerating complexity in world where most organizations have access to same technology, ideas, and labor markets

“Law of Requisite Variety:” It takes variety to survive in variety. Internal complexity must match or exceed external complexity (from Ross Ashby)

Risk: Organizations too simply structured to cope--either too rigid or too chaotic in whole or in vital parts--to survive onslaught of change

Opportunity: Create well-informed enterprise where people see common “networked organization” from multiple perspectives, which guides innovation and local adaptations

Means: Map complete networked organization; use results for navigation, education, analysis, redesign, and productive conversations among people who share model of whole




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