A Practical Overview

Organizations follow a fractal (self-contained) pattern of people working within groups. To make it easy, we can keep it very general:


This is the top-level description of working groups. An organization should have a well-articulated vision (see Mission, Vision, Audiences) and consists of one or usually multiple context-based groups. It can also be part of a larger organization or, when simplified, represent an individual workflow (see below) - hence its fractal nature.

An organization often has a visual identity and is what most people can remember under a specific name and brand.

Context-based collaboration

Also often referred to as teams, pods, or strategies.

Context-based involves teams formed around shared areas of work, such as marketing or engineering teams in a software startup. Unlike time-based projects, context-based collaboration doesn't require fixed deadlines but undergoes periodic reviews to assess progress and address hazards.

Creating context-based teams usually happens during the Organizational Mapping [2 hours] exercise. It only requires a vague idea of the general body of work required and how its goal connects to the overall vision of the organization.

Time-based collaboration

Also often referred to as projects, squads, or initiatives.

Time-based collaboration involves projects with defined start and end points, often with specific deliverables and documentation. These projects can be recurring or discrete and always require clear goals and deadlines. Additionally, there is usually someone who initiates the project and a stakeholder who verifies its completion, ensuring accountability and quality.

Discrete projects can act as experiments to evaluate if they need to happen again. You can find instructions and examples in the Discrete Project Scoping section.

Regular or recurring projects follow the same principles and instructions for how to design those can be found here: Recurring Process Design.

Individual Workflows

Also called functions or roles in long-term sustainable organizations. If well articulated, they often make the skills of an individual evident.

Unlike context-based collaboration and time-based projects, individual workflows are unique to specific individuals and are characterized by specific processes that only one person can execute. These workflows are focused on achieving particular goals and may not have fixed deadlines.

To be sustainable, each of these entities has . In other words, it needs mechanisms for self-reflection and self-repair. This includes retrospectives to identify hazards, challenges, and areas for improvement, followed by documentation based on each retrospective.

Last updated