the art of finding the right scale

Thinking strategically about organisations and incorporating the insights into the design of an organisation is also about finding the right level of abstraction and complexity. The right scale is important to make the strategy design both remarkable and tangible. Not only the scale of the object is important also the depth and width of the subjects (the domain) and the circle of influence both in terms of coverage and time (the context). 

There is a natural tension between getting the big and conceptual picture and the practical details of form and material. On the one hand the design should be visionary, ambitious and significant and on the other hand the design has to be apprehensible, solutionable and workable. 

This is a timeless challenge for design and strategy. It is a reality in our work as strategic organisation designers in Stordes. We found that to work with this paradoxical reality these three work attitudes help.

Move along the scale.  There is more than small and big or conceptual and practical. There is a continuum with all kind of various sizes and levels of abstractions. Exploring these help to see where detail is needed or where the bigger picture needs more attention. 

Allow uncertainty. Leaving room to manoeuvre is important to get the whole picture right. Design is the freedom of thought and experiment. Embrace this design space by avoiding reducing the big or the small too fast. Temporary uncertainty leads to long lasting certainty about the right dimensions. 

You can start too small, never too big. There is a benefit of the big picture that may be lost when starting small. Downscaling is more easy than upscaling. In the end there is always the small, but not the big. So it is worthwhile exploring the bigger dimensions without the massiveness of the details.

Finding the right scale to design for is essential for that design to have an effective impact on our lives in organisations. And that is also a kind of art.