Socio-Technical Design Solutions For Digitally-Enabled Organizations:
Learnings from a Multi-Company Design Lab

Bill Pasmore, Center for Creative Leadership and Teacher’s College, Columbia University
Stu Winby, Spring Network
Sue Mohrman, Center for Effective Organizations, USC

Almost every industry is undergoing some level of digital disruption, and the transformation is only in its infancy. Most companies today realize they need to take advantage of new digital technologies to be more agile, deliver great customer experiences, cut costs, improve quality and transparency, and build value. The speed of development of advanced digital technologies has far exceeded knowledge about how to adjust our organizations and work systems to take advantage of the new capabilities they offer. Companies must transform the way they work, organize, and lead.

We share the learnings from 9 companies who are in the midst of this transformation who have gathered together to share challenges and approaches, and to go through a systematic design process yielding organizational solutions that enable the alignment of the social and technical aspects of the transformation. The challenges we will discuss include: 1) the need to build the organization for simultaneous innovation and efficiency; 2) the need to effectively link the front, customer facing elements of the organization with the operating organization; 3) the change from hierarchy to networks that is required to optimize digitally enabled organization; 4) the need to break down boundaries within and across organizations and stakeholders, and to redesign at the eco-system level; and 5) the inherent change in the role and configuration of leadership and of the workforce in general. The participating organizations are working on socio-technical solutions to these challenges.

Developing the design and change capability to manage this fundamental transition requires an enhanced organizational change capability that allows for simultaneous design of the continually changing technical and social systems, and that builds in the capacity for ongoing testing, learning, and iterating, as well as for rapid scale up of new approaches. The session will consider the design elements of a digitally enabled organization that is built to continually change itself through a combination of whole-group and breakout sessions.


Bill Pasmore holds the position of Professor of Practice at Teachers College, Columbia University, in which he helps link scholarship in the field of organization development & leadership to practice. He teaches in the College’s doctoral and masters degree programs and conducts research in leadership and organizational change. Bill is also Senior Vice President at the Center for Creative Leadership where he advises CEOs, Boards and senior teams. Previously, he was a senior partner with the New York-based consulting firm, Oliver Wyman Delta Consulting, and prior to that, a tenured full professor in the School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. As a thought leader in the field of organization development, he has published numerous books and articles, including Designing Effective Organizations, Creating Strategic Change, Research in Organization Change and Development, and Relationships that Enable Enterprise Change and Leading Continuous Change: Navigating Churn in the Real World. He resides in New York with his wife, Mary and is the proud father of two young professional women pursuing careers in consulting. Bill holds a BS in Aeronautical Engineering/Industrial Management and a Ph.D. in Administrative Sciences, both from Purdue University.


Stu Winby is Founder and CEO of Spring, a socio-technical and experience design firm and also Managing Partner of Innovation Point, a strategic innovation firm — both headquartered in the Silicon Valley. His focus over the last ten years has been in healthcare, working at the CEO, state and national level in innovation and transformation. Previous work has been mostly in the technology sector with firms such as Cisco, Microsoft,Yahoo, HP, Stanford Research International (SRI), and a host of start-ups.




Dr. Sue Mohrman is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.  Her research is in the areas of organization design and effectiveness.  She is an author/editor of 25 books and has published papers in professional journals on the topics of (1) organizational design of the knowledge economy; (2) organization development, learning, and change; (3) high technology organizations; (4) the design of teams and other lateral approaches to organizing; (5) innovative research and evaluation methodologies; and (6) the design of sustainable business systems.

Dr. Mohrman is Co-Faculty Director, with Chris Worley, of the Certificate Program in Organization Design at the Center for Effective Organizations, and of CEO’s research programs on Sustainable Effectiveness.

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