November 29, 2023

Form follows function

‘A human activity system can be defined as “notional system (i.e. not existing in any tangible form) where human beings are undertaking some activities that achieve some purpose”.’*

the most successful forms start with identifying what is on the outside that they need to interact with and then working their way back into finding the form that best suits their external purpose.”**

For a business, the primary things it needs to interact with are prospects and customers. Without these, there is no business.

As a prospect or customer, all that matters to me about the business is what it does with me. And that’s something very simple:

It makes me a promise, and then keeps it (or not).

So, for a business, the form that best suits their external purpose must revolve around this primary activity of making promises and keeping them, for prospects and clients.

It seems to me that the more closely the design of your business reflects this activity of making and keeping promises, the more efficient and effective your business can be.

You reduce the need for translation from external purpose to internal structure, and therefore the risk of mistakes. You increase the visibility of the business’s external purpose, so that your people can keep focused on the person who really matters – the prospect and customer. And you can make sure that every single thing that happens inside your business is done in service of that prospect or customer. You can design your business to be LEAN from the inside out.

This is how I ended up with this as the core of what a business does (and therefore what it is):

There’s more to it than that of course. For a start, as a business, you have to articulate what your Promise is, but that’s for tomorrow.

*Wikipedia (Soft systems methodology).

**Herman Wagter & Jean M. Russell