organisation chart

Adaptive organisations

di Nicolò Boggian

To simplify it as much as possible, we can say that companies today are used to organising work by assigning a person, through a specific role, a problem to solve or an activity to carry out.

The sum of the roles, with the problems to be solved and the activities to be carried out, makes up the company’s organisation chart, which thus provides a snapshot of how work is organised.

The contract between the individual and the company links the organisational roles with the resources to be employed.

A person’s work, and his or her protection, depends on his or her place in the work organisation, and the organisation depends on the system of roles and contracted persons in order to function.

The main problems of this configuration are resistance to change, lack of diversity/inclusion and capacity for innovation. Time determines, more or less quickly, a distance between market problems and the company’s activities. The obsolescence of skills, market competition, technological changes, the curious and creative nature of people are the causes of this disconnect.

Those who lead the organisation, if they are doing their job well, try to flex the organisation by forcing it or by accompanying it with training and personnel management policies until this torsion is so unnatural and costly that a change of organisation is necessary. Periodically, this reorganisation is practically unavoidable, otherwise there is a risk that organisation and problems will go in two different directions. Reorganisation is, however, laborious and painful because people are attached to organisational roles with their respective protections.

Similarly, people perform their tasks enthusiastically for a period of time but tend to want to change jobs after a while. Even large organisations struggle to find new opportunities within such defined organisational nodes. Even a small change potentially may lead to a dangerous disruption of business continuity.

As a result, people try to separate themselves from the company or alienate themselves from work while formally maintaining their jobs.

This problem is deeply rooted but hardly visible to those who administer. Historically structured organisations struggle or give up on breaking out of this trap, waiting for time to naturally provide some opportunity to unravel this entanglement.

New companies and startups anxious to escape the problem of disorganisation, start the path to crystallisation at an early stage, sowing the seeds of subsequent scleroticisation. Infact if a Small/medium entreprise is the most efficient form of organisation for a given period of time to solve a market problem, it often does not have the resources to expand or change organisation when the market demands it.

The dilemma is therefore whether to organise and lose flexibility or to remain fluid and make it difficult to scale.

Finding solutions to this organisational problem is a major challenge for companies. While many think only about today, thus determining tomorrow’s problems, the more astute are looking at new solutions to create constantly adaptive organisations.

The more labour-intensive and knowledge-driven organisations are, the more strategic this issue is, also considering that organisational stability is today strongly intertwined with the individual rights of individuals.

What Whitelibra and Black Tie are studying, designing and testing in the last years is a different configuration between activities, organisational roles and individuals so that the organisation is not permanently dependent on the same people and people’s activities are not strictly dependent on a rigid organisation. In this way, organisational flexibility would be separated from the protection of individuals, allowing the former to be enhanced without depressing the latter.

Secondly, Whitelibra proposes to use training and people services as strategic tools to support the organisation by expanding its possibilities.

The organisation and its people are increasingly becoming autonomous and independent variables that are freely and temporarily combined in projects, which represent the minimum unit in which work is organised.

The tools designed by Whitelibra therefore work to make organisation and reorganisation continuous, fast and economical.

In fact, the organisation of project work has the superpower of constantly aligning skills, people’s motivations and economic resources, determining the most economical and stable solution to the problems facing companies. This super power can now be distributed among many more individuals, inside or outside the  who can then use it as a tool to maximise their own ability to solve the organisations’ and the market’s problems, avoiding organisational bottlenecks and enabling a better allocation of resources.


This work on organisational structure resembles the evolution of microchips that over time have exponentially increased computing capacity or in other words labour productivity.

It will be interesting to see whether this work will be more effective by organising the market (Digital Work City) or by reorganising companies (Smart Working accelerator).

The evolutionary dynamics of the labour market determine on a daily basis whether a problem, inside or outside organisations, should be solved by an existing organisation or by a newly created one.

Even in the general case of the labour market, not only in individual organisations, the torsion caused by excessive rigidity (e.g. lobbies, monopolies, etc.) is destined sooner or later to explode, causing major economic and social problems.

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