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Wiring for Flow

By Steve Pereira, John Rauser

Harnessing Digital Networking Principles in Organizational Design

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This paper explores how organizations can be viewed as complex networks, similar to computer networks, and how principles from digital networking can be applied to improve organizational flow and outcomes. The authors discuss the challenges of managing complexity in organizational networks and introduce a model of network complexity based on state, surface, and speed. They then explore three key concepts from computer networking—modularity, topology, and convergence—and illustrate how these can be applied to address organizational complexity and enhance collaboration, scalability, and adaptability. The paper provides insights into how leaders can leverage digital networking principles to design more effective organizational structures and drive better conversations, decisions, and outcomes.

  • Format PDF
  • Pages 28
  • Publication Date May 7, 2024


  • Powerful Insights

    The paper provides insights into how leaders can leverage digital networking principles to design more effective organizational structures and drive better conversations, decisions, and outcomes.

  • 3 Key Concepts

    Modularity, topology, and convergence can be used to enhance collaboration, scalability, and adaptability.

  • Expert Author

    Written by an expert in the field who has applied these principles in various industries.

  • Change Agents

    Change agents can come from anywhere on the org chart. These papers directly address how to lead and implement change no matter your role or title.

About the Resource

In the metaphors of the modern business world, the model of organizations as networks is emerging as a primary construct for understanding how they function at scale. Organizations are complex and dynamic. They are not just structures of hierarchy and process but a vibrant fabric of interconnected individuals, teams, cultures, tools, systems, artifacts, and technologies. Work and information traverse this network, traveling across the organization to create value for customers.

Organizations have evolved along with humanity, but the scale and rate of change they now grapple with is unprecedented. The flow of work, information, and communication can easily become impeded, fragmented, wasteful, and slow. Understanding how to improve this flow will take an analysis and appreciation of this underlying network structure.

This approach is getting attention, most recently in Wiring the Winning Organization, where authors Gene Kim and Steve Spear make use of “social circuitry” to illustrate the network, explaining that “organizational circuits are the connections by which ideas, information, materials, services, resources, and support can flow.” So, how can we make these circuits more effective?

In our quest for improvement, an intriguing parallel emerges when we consider the realm of computer networks. Over just decades, the internet has stretched to every corner of the globe, improving constantly and enabling unimaginable innovation. In our most successful network, the internet, there are lessons we can learn from its success. There are models to be leveraged, and principles and practices that can be borrowed to address our most challenging network: the organizations we work in.

Steve Pereira
John Rauser
Steve Pereira

Steve Pereira

Steve Pereira has spent over two decades improving the flow of work across organizations. He’s worked through tech support, IT management, build and release engineering, and as a founding CTO for enterprise SaaS. He serves as lead consultant for Visible Value Stream Consulting, as a board advisor to the Value Stream Management Consortium, Chair of the OASIS Value Stream Management Interoperability technical committee, and co-founder of the Flow Collective to bring flow-focused professionals together. Since 2017, he has been developing and facilitating Flow Engineering to make flow improvement in large organizations accessible, collaborative, and actionable.

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John Rauser

John Rauser

John Rauser is Director of Software Engineering at Cisco Cloud Security. He works on distributed networking and security systems, connecting and protecting the world’s largest companies with cloud-delivered solutions. John has spent his career working in various roles across the spectrum of IT, from sysadmin to technology manager, network engineer to infosec lead, developer to engineering leader. John is passionate about organizational leadership, new ways of working, and bridging theory with practice. He speaks regularly at local and international conferences and writes for online publications and on his blog.

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