Growing Adaptive Organizations

Step C6: Design of Policy Structures


Make identity and purpose explicit


The way that policy is made and implemented is without doubt the most important issue for an enterprise. The business must pay its bills and make a profit, but all of the financial issues are constraints: what the company is really about is defined partly by its mission statement, and partly by the working environment it creates for its members.

Central to this issue is the involvement that everyone has in making policy.

In a small startup, this is easy: you have a meeting, and discuss an issue until some sort of consensus emerges, and the policy is made.

In a larger company, the dynamics of large meetings make this difficult, and choices have to be made about the methods of involving everyone in all the important policy decisions, and how to prevent the business from degenerating into endless non-productive meetings.


C6.1 Involvement

Look at your systems for defining new policy. Must all members be involved? Are they regular enough? Do all members feel that their opinions are essential in defining new policies?

C6.2 Accountability

Look at you systems for ensuring policy is adhered to. Is everyone accountable? Are there mechanisms to empower any group of members to call a General Meeting?


The VSM shows System 5 overseeing the interaction between System 4 (collecting environmental data .. making strategies ..) and System 3 (overseeing the Operational units .. looking for ways of generating synergy … )Assuming all of this runs smoothly, the policy systems have very little to do except to act as a watchdog over this process and to ensure that policy is adhered to.

Sister Pages