Order = arrangement of parts + business processes

This is the third part of a three part series on developing a new language for business. The first and second parts are located here and here, respectively.

In architecture, order is how the parts of a building, experience, or form relate to the whole and ultimately convey a shape or structure's purpose.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines order as:

  • The arrangement or disposition of people or things in relation to each other according to a particular sequence, pattern, or method.
  • A state in which everything is in its correct or appropriate place.
  • A state in which the laws and rules regulating the public behavior of members of a community are observed and authority is obeyed.
  • The overall state or condition of something.
  • A particular social, political, or economic system.

In business, order can express not only process, but also how the elements of an organization relate to one another.

Why is this important?

The physical shape of the organization directly affects process. A flat organization will do business differently than a vertically oriented organization. A company that is geographically diverse will conduct business in a different manner than a company with the employees located in one place.

Seeing the overall shape of the organization and how the parts relate to one another can help you better understand and adjust the processes that make the organization run. The shape and structure of the organization can communicate meaning as well. For example, information may flow with less friction in a flat organization compared to a top-down vertically organized company.

Process is typically thought of as being linear and involves doing one step after another until the task is completed. This may work fine for specific tasks, but not for making an organization operationally effective. Developing processes without understanding the relationships in an organization is counterproductive. People are inclined to create processes in order to help them define what they don't know. 

The arrangement of the parts of an organization and the processes at work need to be viewed together in order to develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics at play.