Organisational levels

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Back to Organisational futuring - Hidden layers

Welcome to the Organisational levels page

Creation of layers

We create layers of experiences from what is important (interests - why) and valuable (values - how) to us at every moment of our lives.

They are the two primary dimensions.

  1. Interest, the active dimension, spans
    1. ← from autonomy
    2. to participation →
  2. Values, the second one, spans
    1. from connectedness ↑
    2. to coherence ↓
  3. In turn, the layers they create, constructs a third dimension we can use to create levels from
    1. competencies
    2. to our relevant goals.

How this works is best explained by the theory of constructed emotions.



Outer focus level

Jobs-to-be-done - Anthony W. Ulwick
Outer Focus
Charge less
Disruptive strategy Dominant strategy
Get the jobs done worse Get the jobs done better
Discrete strategy Differentiated strategy
Charge more

Dominant strategy

  • Win ALL types of customers (over- & underserved)

Differentiated strategy

  • Win ONLY underserved customers

Discrete strategy

  • Win customers with limited options

Disruptive strategy

  • Win overserved customers (& non-customers)



Other focus level

Middle Management Model - Jesse Segers
Other focus
Open up to other levels
Liaison officer Strategy challenger
Convergent Divergent
Showrunner Space creator
Stay on the known level

Strategy challenger

  • Strengths
    • Solutions for organisational issues put on the top agenda
    • Initiate strategic renewal
  • Activities:
    • Translate adaptive challenges into feasible claims
    • Bringing stakeholders into motion with political skill
  • Challenge:
    • Formulate a strong claim
    • Political will and skill development

Space creator

  • Unique contribution:
    • Organisational renewal and bring innovation
  • Activities:
    • Giving structural freedom of movement to employees and teams.
    • Entrepreneurship, experimentation, learning and development are stimulated in purposeful direction and in a psychologically safe climate.
  • Challenge:
    • Balancing between disciplined performance and innovation
    • Put itself in development mode


  • Unique contribution:
    • Ensure operational continuity
    • Implement strategic change
  • Activities:
    • Organizing implementation and top down change
    • Inspiring, coaching, motivating and facilitating people
  • Challenge:
    • Extend classic role as leader of transactions to include people leadership in change, including themselves

Liaison officer

  • Unique contribution:
    • Synthesize the effects of the strategy used
    • Feeding the top so that the strategy can be adjusted or renewed
  • Activities:
    • linking information, human and social capital between the different parts in it organization system
    • recognizing organizational issues, such as structural holes, toxic patterns and resource magnets, and learning to name that to the top
  • Challenge:
    • Acting from a lived vision and commitment to the collective
    • Develop strategic social capital and political agility



HR Model - Dave Ulrich
Other Focus
Strategic focus
Strategic partner Change agent
Process focus People focus
Administrative expert Employee champion
Operational focus

Change agent

  • Unique contribution:
    • Creates capacity for change and a renewed organisation
  • Activities:
    • Staffing, organisational design, survey action planning, performance measurement, training and development.

Employee champion

  • Unique contribution:
    • Contributes to dedicated and competent employees
  • Activities:
    • Employee relations, labor relations, safety & workers' compensation, diversity

Administrative expert

  • Unique contribution:
    • Ensures that the process is in order
  • Activities
    • Compensation & benefits, HR information systems, compliance.

Strategic partner

  • Unique contribution:
    • Ensures a successful implementation of the business strategy by translating the business goals into concrete HR strategy as a strategic partner of the management
  • Activities:
    • Strategic HR planning, HR business partner, culture and image



Inner focus level

The next CEO Model - Thomas Keil
Inner focus
Large strategic change
Turn around Transformation
Short term Long term
Continuation Evolution
Small strategic change


  • Unique contribution:
    • The ceo changes the strategy
  • Challenge:
    • Context has changed


  • Unique contribution:
    • The ceo adapts and executes the strategy
  • Challenge:
    • Minor context changes


  • Unique contribution:
    • The ceo executes the existing strategy
  • Challenge:
    • The context is stable


  • Unique contribution:
    • The ceo breaks the inertia and initiates turnaround
  • Challenge:
    • Financial distress



Navigating Uncertainty - Nathan Furr
Inner focus
Reframe Do
Autonomy Participation
Prime Sustain


To navigate uncertainty, the next step is to take action. Our research demonstrates that most successful breakthroughs and start-ups are not made with a single giant step, but through a series of small incremental steps and changes in course along the way. We also learn from the best start-up accelerators that the best way to learn your way through uncertain environments is to talk to as many people from as many different backgrounds, as soon and quickly as possible.

One of the most empowering skills is to set yourself up so that you cannot fail. David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of the Ruby on Rails full-stack framework and cofounder of multiple start-ups like Basecamp and, uses an approach we call “values over goals”. Instead of focusing on a goal (which under uncertainty is just a guess), he argues that focusing on achieving your intrinsic values (which for him includes coding great software and acting ethically in the market) ensures that you can succeed, no matter how the external world responds. Uncertainty is best resolved by taking action, but if you do so based on your values – such as learning, growth, discovery, and living the life you care about – you can ensure your own success.

Another tool is to activate and unlock what’s already present instead of inventing a new solution. Maria Montessori developed an eponymous early childhood education method that activates and unlocks the natural curiosity of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities instead of reinventing the wheel.

  • Values - Goals
  • Cognitieve flexibility
  • Learning
  • Bricolage
  • Smaal steps
  • Pivots


Two important ingredients to sustain action in times of uncertainty are: emotional hygiene and reality check. We need to attend to our emotions – like how you would a physical wound – to prevent paralysing self-doubt or unproductive rumination. At the same time, recognise that setbacks and failure are part of the learning journey. Another ingredient we often neglect is to interact with the people, places and things that increase your chances of the leaps in insight, connection and serendipity that can change everything.

“Science is full of uncertainty,” said Ben Feringa, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on the molecular machines that could one day power nanobots in your blood to protect you from cancer or repair the pipes in your house from the inside. When asked how he deals with the uncertainty that attends scientific breakthroughs, he explained, “If you deal with uncertainty you will fail,” so you have to “get resilient at handling the frustration that comes with uncertainty”. This involves letting himself stew for a while over the setback and then asking, “What can I learn from it? What is the next step that I can be working on?”

This ability to find an “upside beyond the ‘failure’” is one of many frustrationmanagement frames innovators use to sustain themselves through uncertainty’s roller coaster of obstacles and breakthroughs.

  • Reality check
  • Emotional hygiene


Priming makes uncertainty less menacing by helping you develop selfknowledge and the conditions to pursue new projects or navigate unexpected uncertainty better. This starts with knowing your acceptance (or aversion) for a range of risks such as financial, emotional, social, physical, intellectual, political, etc. With that self-awareness, you can build your risk tolerance by taking smaller risks, even in non-related fields to increase your ability to take other risks. Another way is to simplify your life by outsourcing to focus your efforts on tackling the unknown.

Part of priming is to recognise that even the greatest innovators among us have limits to how much uncertainty they can endure. Innovators such as Steve Jobs (think black turtleneck tops) have learnt to maintain fixed habits, routines and rituals as “uncertainty balancers” that bolster stability in some parts of their lives to counterbalance parts that are in flux. founder Sam Yagan said, “My best friends are from my junior high and high school. I married my high school sweetheart, … given how much ambiguity I [deal with] at work, I do look for less in other areas of my life.”

  • Know the risks
  • Reals options
  • Uncertainty balancers
  • Reimagine resources


The first and most crucial step is to reframe uncertainty. Studies have shown that how you describe uncertainty affects how you think, decide and act. Since humans are inherently gain-seeking and loss-averse, if treatment 1 for a new disease is described as 95 percent effective versus treatment 2 that is 5 percent ineffective, we are more likely to choose treatment 1 even though both are statistically identical.

One reframing tool is the infinite game approach originally developed by New York University professor and philosopher, James Carse. Are you living your life with an “finite” lens where you learn and play by the rules to win, or living a more “infinite” game where you can question and bend your role, the rules, the boundaries and even purpose of the game? Also, consider reframing frontiers – be it geographical, technological, or personal ones related to intellectual, social, emotional or financial aspects of your life.

  • Frontiers
  • Adjectant possible
  • Stories
Content source
Can We Get Better at Navigating Uncertainty? - Nathan Furr - INSEAD - 2022



Competing Values Framework
Inner focus
Human Relations Model Open Systems Model
Internal orientation External orientation
Internal Process Model Rational Goal Model

Open Systems Model


  • Living with change
  • Thinking creatively
  • Managing change


  • Building and maintaining a power base
  • Negotiating agreement and commitment
  • Presenting ideas

Rational Goal Model


  • Working productively
  • Fostering a productive work environment
  • Managing time and stress


  • Developing and communicating a vision
  • Setting goals and objectives
  • Designing and organising
  • Managing competition

Internal Process Model


  • Monitoring individual performance
  • Managing collective performance & process
  • Analysing ibnformation with critical thinking
  • Managing acculturation


  • Managing porjects
  • Designing work
  • Managing across functions

Human Relations Model


  • Understanding self and others
  • Communicating efficietly
  • Developing employees


  • Building teams
  • Using participative decision making
  • Managing conflict
Content source
Quinn & Rohrbaught - 1983


Types of thinking about the future
Inner focus
Road maps Pathways
Certainty Uncertainty
Forecast planning Scenario planning


  • Transformations
  • Unknown territory
  • Path unfolds as you take it
  • We shap the future

Scenario Planning

  • Stories of the future
  • What might happen

Forecast planning

  • Economic forecast
  • Future similar to past
  • Quntitative models

Road maps

  • All agree on what to do
  • Removal of uncertainty
  • Moving along the road together