An organizational driver is any situation where the organization’s members have a motive to respond because they anticipate that doing so would be beneficial for the organization (by helping to generate value, eliminate waste or avoid undesirable risks or consequences).
A requirement is a need or desire considered necessary to fulfill to respond to an organizational driver, adequately or as a suitable incremental next step.
Identifying and interacting with situations that warrant some kind of response is a fundamental aspect of everyone’s working day in an organization.
In the context of Sociocracy 3.0, effectiveness is a key principle that invites an organization’s members to make the best use of their resources, energy and time by devoting effort toward only doing what brings an organization closer toward achieving its overall objectives. To help people make sense of what’s important to focus on, and to develop shared understanding around what may or may not be beneficial to do, we use the concepts of Organizational Drivers and Requirements.
Reflecting on and describing organizational drivers and requirements supports:
- understanding situations that motivate action (sense-making)
- establishing whether and why a situation is relevant to respond to (meaning-making)
- determining direction and scope for a suitable response to the situation (decision-making)
Identifying and understanding situations that present potential impediments or opportunities in relation to an organization’s objectives is important if we are to successfully orient through our daily work and make the best use of our limited resources, energy, and time.
However, not all situations that motivate an organization’s members to act, are pertinent for the organization to respond to. With the concept of organizational drivers we give a name to those situations an organization’s members investigate and determine as relevant to respond to because they anticipate that doing so would be beneficial for the organization - by helping to generate value, eliminate waste, or avoid undesirable risks or consequences.
Making sense of situations that arise in the course of daily work and establishing if those situations are relevant to deal with, before deciding how to respond to them, has evident benefits:
- A clear and accurate understanding of a situation that requires an intervention, supports people to develop a better idea of what’s required to deal with it. A problem well-defined is a problem half-solved (see Respond to Organizational Drivers)
- Explicitly describing a driver helps to communicate about it effectively with others and develop a shared understanding of the situation and its relevance for the organization (see Describe Organizational Drivers)
- Thinking about organizational drivers supports people to reflect on, understand and communicate about why they do the things they do. It provides a way to investigate and make explicit the reasons behind actions and decisions and it helps to understand why we are motivated to pursue particular objectives and goals.
- Taking time to investigate situations and their potential relevance, before acting, helps to determine if and when intervening is worthwhile, because people can be mistaken, both regarding their conclusions about what they are perceiving, and in terms of the relevance they ascribe to the situations they perceive (see Navigate via Tension).
- Being clear about why you are doing things will make it easier to regularly evaluate the outcomes of your actions and identify ways to improve your approach. (When doing so, also consider whether the organizational driver has changed: the situation is different, or its relevance for the organization has changed.)
Determining whether a situation qualifies as an organizational driver is dependent on adequate understanding of the overall purpose of the organization (its primary driver and main requirement, its strategy, objectives, values, existing agreements, and so on. Once it’s established that responding to a particular situation would be beneficial for the organization, it qualifies as an organization driver and can then be prioritized accordingly. Such diligence ensures that people remain focused on, and responsive to, challenges and opportunities that are relevant to the organization’s purpose and objectives.
Relationships between organizational drivers
All organizational drivers arise as a consequence of the decision to respond to the organization’s primary driver and fulfill its main requirement. The decision to respond to a driver often reveals necessary steps, obstacles and opportunities that need taking care of. To describe the relationship between organizational drivers, we use the terms subdriver and superdriver.
Drivers, Value and Waste
By adopting the concepts of value and waste in organizations, many practices and ideas from lean production and lean software development are immediately applicable for organizations pulling in S3 patterns, like the Kanban Method, or Value Stream Mapping.
Both concepts can be explained in relation to drivers:
Value is the importance, worth or usefulness of something in relation to a driver.
Waste is anything unnecessary for — or standing in the way of — a (more) effective response to a driver.
There’s a wealth of research and development about the concept of value and waste in organizations. We’d encourage you to explore that for yourself.
Intentionally and explicitly clarifying the general direction and scope of the response to a driver before deciding on what specific steps to take, helps identify more specific and suitable solutions, especially in complex situations.
Having a solution-oriented attitude is highly valued in organizations. However, in collaborative settings, becoming overly fixated on specific ideas too soon in the process can stifle creativity and lead to unnecessary tension and conflicts. When tasked with responding to an organizational driver, immediately jumping to specific solutions can restrict or obscure the range of possibilities considered. Furthermore, specific solutions might be derived by individuals projecting their past experiences onto the situation or acting based on habit, rather than based on a thorough and considered analysis of the situation at hand, and a deliberate and explicit decision regarding the requirement: understanding what is needed or desired to address this driver and how fulfilling this requirement could positively impact the situation (as outlined in the pattern Determine Requirements.