While working on a network organisation concept and principles:

  • Value and speed vs cost and efficiency
  • Adaptiveness
  • Transparency

and giving it a try to visualise it in this document. (feel free to provide your comments)

I stumbled across the challenge which is not obvious how to solve in the best way. And whole principle of network structure can be broken if certain culture is strong in a company. The challenge i am talking about is excellence of functional skills e.g. quality, product management, development practices, analysts

We are trying to solve it introducing following activities:

  • Internal unconferences with following “TODOthon” (copyright by Dainius)
  • Internal communities: meetups and knowledge sharing sessions
  • Education center with leads per topic
  • POD Leads and Keepers decide if and how people should participate or lead certain communities

Some open questions:

  • Who sets the bar? Understanding what is best can differ from POD to POD
  • How to split time? When you don’t participate in daily work you loose competency and can’t contribute well to community

How do you keep excellence across the company? Not interested in solutions with functional managers

p.s. was surprised that **otify has functional managers, so they have cool way of organising projects, but organisational structure i guess is old-fashioned. before that was thinking that they have network structure.

Good. Cheap, Fast! We all know that only two things can be picked, but always tend to forget that and spend lots of time and effort to have all three.

That is why it’s perfect decoration for a workplace, especially in the meeting rooms where you invite clients. It definitely can work as a reminder of this important truth.


Good Cheap Fast


Description is taken from the book “Black Swan” and I love it.

What is a complex system? It’s a system where elements are strongly related in time (element depends on its own historical transformations), horizontally (elements are mutually dependent) and in diagonal (A depends on a history of B)

You can read more about how to deal with it in my previous post – http://agilemindstorm.com/2015/03/17/network-structure-confirmation-bias/

Main difference between standard company structure and network structure (more information about that topic can be found here) is dynamics:

  • company structure fits business model
  • structure changes together with business
  • cells have autonomy to make decisions

And it means that role description must also be dynamic and change together with POD’s evolution. Here is possible evolution of POD keeper role.

POD stagePOD Keeper focusRole & Responsibilities
Idea, early stageProgramming
POC creation
Explore technology
Tech Lead
2-3 people
Determine needed resources
Lightweight delivery process
Experimenting technology
Scrum Master
5-12 people
StabilizationProduct development process
Quality assurance
Ensuring capacity
Managing technology
Development manager
15-40 people
ExpansionDefining product lines
New technologies
Managing product portfolio
Planning new offerings
Development manager
40+ people
MatureOptimize whole value delivery
Avoid centralization
Identify new value chains
Set up new PODs
Change agent
100+ people

Principle is simple as POD grows POD Lead and Keeper responsibilities are changing accordingly to meet business goals and needs.

Good luck

I’ve recently read the book about Black Swan theory. If you are going to read comments about this book you will find it very controversial. But i would recommend to read it anyway as it suggest slightly different view on complexity and our desire to rationalize everything (especially when it’s already happened).

I want to share notes from the book about the _complexity_ and how it maps to POD framework (or any other network organisation) we are starting to apply in a company.

Even though it might look like a confirmation bias why network structure is much better than hierarchical structure. But f*** it, i treat it as thinking tool and mental exercise.

When organisation grows bigger the complexity increases and as the result more risks become hidden and one of the main ideas is to bring them on the surface.

Definition of Complexity from the book:

What is a complex system? It’s a system where elements are strongly related in time (element depends on its own historical transformations), horizontally (elements are mutually dependent) and in diagonal (A depends on a history of B)

For me it’s a perfect definition of a product development team that works on a complex solution with many offerings. So here are some suggestions on how to manage risks (or make them visible).


Book: Management shouldn’t get bonuses based on short-term targets (1 year). All decisions must be evaluated from a long-term perspective.

Network structure: when you organize yourself around value creation you must think in a long-term perspective because you need to evaluate following things: who will use it? is it a big group? do they really need that? when do they need that? who are competitors? and etc.

Avoid optimization

Book: It leads to narrow specialization and system becomes too much dependant on exact planning and you cannot predict/foresee all options. It leads to more hidden risks within the system.

Network structure: each cell in a network structure has the authority and right level of autonomy to solve problems in their own way to avoid centralization when it’s not needed.

Prediction of distant events

Book: It’s impossible to predict distant events (and their impact) in a complex system. Most predictions are based on historical failures, but it doesn’t explain the nature of next one as we don’t know all inputs and dependency (planning tends to simplify things).

Network structure: i don’t like planning. i believe that right level of transparency instead of strategic planning solves the problem much better. Better to have right information at any moment in the future in order to make right decisions than try to predict decisions based on information you have now.

Weak things

Book: Weak things must break while they are small as it reduces the impact of the event.

Network structure: cells are created around value and it must be “closed” if it doesn’t prove it works otherwise it must split as outgrows certain size or tries to solve very diverse set of problems, which results in a huge loss of focus, slow value delivery, possible queues and etc.

That’s it.

p.s. If interested you can read a bit more about the theory and the author please visit Wikipedia.

Black Swan Theory – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory

Nassim Nicholas Taleb – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nassim_Nicholas_Taleb

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