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© 2024 N. Dean Meyer and Associates Inc.
Excerpt from www.NDMA.COM, © 2024 N. Dean Meyer and Associates Inc.

How Organizations SHOULD Work

envisioning a high-performing organization made of a network of internal entrepreneurs

by N. Dean Meyer

Book: How Organizations Should Work

You're a transformational leader...   and your organization needs change. It needs significant improvements in its operational excellence, teamwork, innovation, agility, scalability, and quality of work life.

It takes three things to drive a transformation:

  1. A crystal-clear vision of where you're taking us. (If you don't know where you're going....)

  2. Science-based principles of organizational design. (This is a core competency of leadership.)

  3. Proven, participative change processes. (True transformation requires that you capture hearts and minds.)

This book has all three. And beyond that, it has:

  1. A great case study of an organizational transformation (by Preston T. Simons).

  2. Analysis of many critical challenges, including innovation, digital business, scalability, acquisitions integration, agility, the founder bottleneck, multi-national synergies versus localization.

  3. Perspectives on transformational leadership.

  4. A book summary (akin to Cliff's Notes).

Available in hard-cover, Kindle and audio on Amazon, 528 pages.

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Table of Contents....

Author's note to readers....
a synopsis and the context of the book

Foreword: Building a High-performing Organization....
case study by Preston T. Simons

Sample chapters (Part One)....
to see if you'll get into it

Videos, essays, use cases....

Speech abstracts

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Vision: The Goal

Imagine an ideal organization.... One that performs brilliantly by any measure -- operational excellence, customer delight, and innovation. One that attracts top talent without necessarily paying top dollar. One in which everybody, at every level, thinks and act like an empowered internal entrepreneur, living in an organizational ecosystem that automatically aligns everybody's priorities and induces great teamwork.

"This book imagines a company that I'd love to work for, and dream to create."
Don Martin, CIO

Are we dreaming? Hopefully!

Transformational leaders need to be able to articulate their vision -- not a cute motto, but a detailed description (the blueprint) of how things will work in the end-state organization.

This book presents clear and detailed vision of the "Market Organization" where the hierarchy exists, but work gets done through a network of empowered entrepreneurs.

And it drills down into each functional area of a business (or a business within a business such as IT). You'll see exactly how things work in this dynamic organization.

Imagination is the first step in invention.

Design Principles: The Toolkit

An organizational operating model comprises its structure, delivery processes, resource-governance processes, culture, and metrics. Together, these organizational systems add up to the "ecosystem" in which we work -- the biggest determinant of an organization's performance.

"Dean Meyer has singularly cracked the code on how to organize a company for performance, innovation, and scalability.

In a field replete with muddled thinking, his blueprint is simple, clear, concise, and utterly effective.

Dean's books are genuinely some of the few that I keep within arm's reach in my office."
Kirk Botula, serial tech-venture CEO

In each of these organizational systems, there are science-based principles of design. Knowing these principles is a fundamental competency of transformational leadership.

You'll see in this book two pillars of organizational design: the business-within-a-business paradigm, and empowerment. It then explains the basic design principles for each of those organizational systems.

Then, in each of those organizational systems, it lays out fundamental frameworks and design principles. These are the practical tools you can use to "program" your organization to work according to your vision.

Implementation Processes: Change Management

As Teddy Roosevelt said, "Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground."

Transformational leaders need to deploy practical, well-tested implementation processes that engage leadership teams in the design of the organization.

This book overviews step-by-step change processes, including planning your transformation road-map and meticulous change processes for each of the organizational systems.

"Having read most of Meyer's other books, I had a good understanding of his approach to organizational structure, teamwork, governance, and culture.

But How Organizations Should Work crystalized everything for me, clearly showing how all the pieces fit together in a comprehensive description of a truly great organizational design.

If you are thinking about working on your organization's performance, this is the book for you!"
Mike Fulton, VP of Product Strategy and Innovation, Expedient

Transformational Leadership

The book concludes with observations on scalability, acquisitions, innovation, digital business, and transformational leadership.

Purpose of the Book

Told as a story, this book is detailed and comprehensive, and yet it's an easy read. It can help you clarify and communicate your vision, and engage your leadership team in building a high-performing organization.

It's purpose is simple: to help you leave the legacy of an organization that's supplier-of-choice to its customers and employer-of-choice to its staff -- and one that prospers long after you've moved on.

What self-respecting leader wouldn't relish a day to reflect on what constitutes an ideal organizational design!?

What people have said about the book:

Dean Meyer has had an immense influence on my life. This book is yet another masterpiece that teaches us the framework of a high-performing organization. It's a book every transformational CEO should read.
  — Sergio Paiz, CEO, PDC

Following the eras of hierarchical, matrix, and networked organizations, Meyer provides a welcome new perspective: the Market Organization. It's a comprehensive, modular business operating model, built on solid organizational principles. This experience-rich book provides a practical blueprint for organizational transformation, necessary to survive in the face of turbulence, complexity, and disruption.
  — Peter G. W. Keen, Professor (retired), Stanford, MIT, and Harvard

This is an extraordinary leadership book that every manager in any company can use. It takes you through every imaginable element of a corporate organization -- structure, financial governance, incentives, and more -- challenges conventional wisdom, and clearly lays out new ways of thinking. It was a real eye-opening experience for one who has spent his career in traditional organizations. I kept saying, 'Yeah, that is the way organizations should work!'
  — Richard Hartnack, Chairman of the Board, Synchrony Financial

Standing ovation! This book is incredible! Internal entrepreneurship blows away bureaucracy. Teamwork obviates silos. Internal value-chains build alignment so much better than top-down plans and cascading objectives. You don't need to pick your poison -- innovation versus efficiency, empowerment versus control -- you can have your cake and eat it too. You won't believe what's possible in organizations until you read this ground-breaking book.
  — Fred Dewey, serial startup and turnaround CEO

This book is fantastic! It's real world (the 'conversations' are so familiar) and yet incredibly thought provoking. This is a must for anyone leading transformational change in their organization.
  — Mark Eustis, President & CEO (retired), Fairview Health Services, and Founding Board Member, VillageMD

I've never read anything like this. It's profound! This book really stretched my thinking about what's possible as a leader.
  — Juan Pablo Zelaya, Professor, Universidad Galileo, and Founder and General Manager, The Fit Center

This is inspired work! It's big picture, yet detailed, in a way that expands and rewires my brain.
  — Huron Low, Co-founder, Virtuoso Card Company (Singapore)

There are thousands of books about how organizations should work and nearly all of them are inane. This book is a happy exception -- predictable given its author. Dean Meyer has a decades-long track record of deep research, fresh thinking, innovation, big ideas and solid advice. When you read this book, you're going to learn a lot that will help you build a better organization, and that's something I rarely say.
  — Don Tapscott, Chancellor Emeritus, Trent University, and best-selling author

I know of no other author who has constructed a more valuable methodological framework, not even Henry Mintzberg whom I also appreciate very much. It is unusual to find a combination of profound principles, such as those of Stafford Beer, with specific guidelines for practical application. In these times of great need for adaptability and agility, Meyer's proposal is much more necessary than ever in any organization.
  — Luis Fernandez, Founder and CEO, Metodologias+Soluciones (Peru)

Over the years and in several roles, Dean's unique organizational genius has been instrumental to me in diagnosing organizational problems and putting in place structures, systems, and ways of thinking that improve everything: engagement, productivity, results. This book is Dean's masterpiece -- not only does he show how it all works together at all levels, not only is every figure indexed and every reference cited, but he tells you how to get there using a philosophy and approach that brings everyone along with the change.
  — Remy Evard, (former) CIO, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

When I first discovered Dean's vision for 'Market Organizations,' I worried that it was overly aspirational, theoretical, and failed to address the practical realities of running a business. As I dug deeper, I realized that our 'practical realities' were largely symptoms of our violating fundamental principles: accountabilities not aligned with authorities; a focus on tasks rather than deliverables; people going too many ways at once; etc. Applying Dean's work was a turning point in my career as an entrepreneur, and in my company. Now, we're delivering more of what matters; our customers (internal and external) are more engaged and happier; and an entrepreneurial spirit is returning to the company in a way I never would have conceived possible.
  — Sam Prochazka, CEO, GoodMorning.com

Dean Meyer is usually the smartest person in the room. Thankfully, he has avoided excessive theory and needless jargon. Rather, his book is a clear and concise description of what a market organization is and how to create one. Most importantly, it is practical. It tells an engaging story followed by a step-by-step implementation guide that is easy to understand and act upon.
  — Chris Edgelow, CEO, Sundance Consulting

In my 30+ years of working at the crossroads of leadership, technology, and human communication, I've never found a more comprehensive and systematic approach to building a high-performing organization. Meyer's fundamental organizational design principles are timeless and effective.
  — Mary Boone, author, Leadership and the Computer and Managing Interactively

The best organizations are a collection of cohesive, agile small teams that are effectively aligned and coordinated. But what is simple in concept is challenging in execution. Dean Meyer provides a highly readable and eminently practical roadmap for leaders to get it done.
  — Gen. Stanley McChrystal, author, Team of Teams and Risk: A User's Guide

Dean Meyer has singularly cracked the code on how to organize a company for performance, innovation, and scalability. In a field replete with muddled thinking, his blueprint is simple, clear, concise, and utterly effective. Dean's books are genuinely some of the few that I keep within arm's reach in my office.
  — Kirk Botula, serial tech-venture CEO

Having read most of Meyer's other books, I had a good understanding of his approach to organizational structure, teamwork, governance, and culture. But How Organizations Should Work crystalized everything for me, clearly showing how all the pieces fit together in a comprehensive description of a truly great organizational design. If you are thinking about working on your organization's performance, this is the book for you!
  — Mike Fulton, VP of Product Strategy and Innovation, Expedient

This book is a fun read, a breath of fresh air from preachy tomes. And it offers creative solutions to so many common organizational issues.
  — Wes Clelland, Founder and CEO (retired), Acacia Capital

This book is a transformational leader's bible. From a new and powerful operating model down to the details of how each function should work, it's a comprehensive blueprint of an amazing organization, and a handbook that tells you exactly how to build it.
  — Yomi Famurewa, Executive Partner, Gartner

This book packs decades of wisdom into just hours of reading. Every chapter is packed with amazing insights!
  — Janma Bardi, General Manager, PDC Red (LatAm tech company)

In the past, I worked at a large company that had engaged Dean to implement the Market Organization, and it was the healthiest organization I've ever been in.
  — Mark R. Schultze, COO, PerformanceG2, Inc.

This book imagines a company that I'd love to work for, and dream to create.
  — Don Martin, CIO

Employee expectations have evolved. To attract and retain talent, leaders must create organizations that people want to work for. The Market Organization is exactly that. It's a work environment that respects employees' need for job fulfillment and work-life balance, while delivering business results. This book will help you create an organization that is both high-performing and humanistic."
  —Gary Rietz, CIO, Blommer Chocolate

This book is filled with powerful insights. If more organizations foster this kind of leadership and entrepreneurship among their team members, surely that would contribute to leaving a better planet for future generations.
  —Ramiro Castillo, Transformation and People Director, Corporacion AG; and Board member, Del Valle University

How Organizations Should Work is insight rich. The Market Organization induces leaders and staff to evolve from being cogs in factory-like processes to internal entrepreneurs.
  — Ade McCormack, author, thought leader, and keynoter

Dad raised me to be a problem solver. Until I read Meyer's work, I'd jump in and solve problems as they arose, believing that if I wanted it done right, I'd have to do it myself. I took everything on myself; and despite long hours, there wasn't enough of me to go around. Now, I solve organizational problems, and empower our great people to solve all those business problems. These principles of organizational design changed my life!
  — Dave Shepherd, CEO, New Millennium

If endlessly plugging the leaks springing up all over your business has left you exhausted, uninspired, and doubting yourself or business, you owe it to yourself and those depending on you to read this book. Meyer's principles gave my 25-person company the vision, roadmap, and tools to shatter our growth ceiling, making our business more fun, easy, and profitable than ever before.
  — Derek Weber, President, goBRANDgo!

It doesn't matter whether you're a Fortune-100 company or a startup, Dean does a fantastic job of providing the tools and roadmap to create your ideal organization.
  — Maxwell H. Sims, co-founder and COO, MindTrace

How Organizations Should Work should be on every CEO's reading list. It's a field guide to running a healthy, effective business wrapped in a compelling fable. A must read for anyone that wants to know how great businesses sound, think, and operate.
  — Jessica Rovello, CEO, Arkadium

Boards of directors and venture investors, multiple studies show that 65% of venture deals return less than invested capital. If you want to increase your 'winners,' give this book to your operating executives and demand organizational leadership. Companies built on these principles maintain the passion and vision of the founders, while maturing their processes as they grow and create value.
  — Charlie Shalvoy, Executive Chairman, Voxel8, Inc.

A well-engineered organization promotes capital efficiency, streamlines growth, and provides a sustainable competitive edge. And yet, startup companies are generally designed on the fly without any blueprint, or even expert advice. This extraordinary handbook by Dean Meyer is an easy-to-read reference and guide, and reflects the distilled wisdom of one of the foremost practitioners in organizational design. It should find a place in the library of every Silicon Valley VC and CEO.
  — Faruq Ahmad, Founding Partner, Palo Alto Capital Advisors

Even in the smallest companies, organizational processes matter! In fact, the concepts in this book are best implemented at that early stage of growth. They clarify who's accountable for what, and (perhaps more importantly) whose job it is to think about all the things we're not yet thinking about. And they build an organization that scales while maintaining entrepreneurship at every level. Meyer's book is a great body of work.
  — August J. Ceradini, Jr., President/Partner (Former), Circle Line & World Yacht; and Chairman Emeritus, Culinary Institute of America

To handle the rapid growth we see ahead of us, we have to 'grow up' from a venture to a mature company, but without losing our entrepreneurial spirit. This book brought together all the principles that we needed. It caused us to ask tough questions about how we do business, and have conversations we'd avoided. And it helped our leaders to develop a clear, shared vision of the company we're out to create.
  — Leo De La Fuente, COO, Berkey

Government leaders who say, 'We are not a business,' just don't get it. Every department exists to deliver services to constituents or other departments. I've implemented these business-within-a-business concepts, and the impacts on performance and employee engagement have been astounding!
  — Steve Monaghan, Agency Director, IT and General Services, Nevada County CA

As the head of a library system, I want our branches to be empowered and customer focused, while working as a tight team coordinated by our strategies. This book helped me elucidate a clear vision of where we're going, and chart a pragmatic path forward. I'm a better leader for having read it.
  — Nick Wilczek, Library Director, Nevada County CA

After 16 years with the organization, I was appointed to my first C-level job. Meyer's book provided the guidance I needed to rise above the day-to-day tasks, and build an organization that delivers on its vision. It showed me how to be an effective executive, a real organizational leader.
  — Lee Gerney, CIO, Yolo County CA

Strategic planners need to focus on organizational strategy right alongside business strategy. Great strategies won't amount to much if the organization doesn't have the capability to execute them. To understand organizational strategy, you need go no further than this book. It not only says it all. It's inspirational!
  — Victor Jerez, corporate strategic planning and business development executive

Executive coaches generally focus on interpersonal skills, talent management, and business strategies. But organizational strategy is every bit as important -- in many situations, even more so. This book gives executive coaches the tools to help clients see the root causes of many of their concerns, and to become transformational leaders. It's a critical competency for all executive coaches.
  — Barbara Healy, executive coach and former corporate executive

Organizational development and HR professionals, you need to study Meyer's latest book. I'm amazed that any one person could have amassed this much knowledge about how organizations should operate, and communicate it in such simple, readable terms. From a vision that inspires to systemic change processes, Meyer delivers a practical roadmap to high performance.
  — Roger Young, Partner, Excel Leadership Group

Organizational design experts, take note. Meyer's book is the core of what high-performance means. It's a practical application of the open systems model across an entire business, and brings to life those often-esoteric concepts in a delightful, jargon-free, compelling read.
  — Stu Winby, founder and CEO, SPRING Network

Systems thinkers will appreciate the way Meyer channels the theories of Beer, Snowden, and so many others into a practical organizational operating model. He explains how to handle the complexity of today's real world in great detail and clarity, and with lots of patience. If you have questions on how to adopt a systems approach, this book will provide the answers.
  — Javier Livas, attorney and cybernetician

I've long believed CIOs should run IT as a business. This book explains exactly how to do that -- the foundational principles, the details of how it will work, and the implementation process to get there.
  — Paul Edmisten, CIO

IT professionals, you need to read this book! Not only does it provide practical solutions to just about every management challenge, but you'll also come to understand the organizational dynamics, and that will let you reimagine how you serve your internal customers (maybe even some external customers, too).
  — Geoff Routledge, Google engineer

Agile experts, take note! There's a new guy in the scaled Agile community, and things are never going to be the same. Meyer is prominent in the world of organizational effectiveness, but it's high time he became a household name in ours. I don't consider it an exaggeration to say we may look back and see that his work was the missing link that moved scaled Agile to the next stage of its evolutionary journey.
  — Stuart Ward, Enterprise Agile Coach (SPC5, CSP, CSM, ICP-ACC, PMP)

The IT Service Management community really must read Meyer's book, How Organizations Should Work. It not only aligns perfectly with ITIL-4's focus on delivering products and services (outcomes) via end-to-end value chains, enabled by service relationships between provider and consumer groups. It explains how to do exactly that -- how to become the preferred supplier and reduce shadow IT by winning new business through value creation and building good relationships with internal customers.
  — Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research and Development, Pink Elephant

Information security leaders (CISOs), this book is the key to transforming your group into a service organization that extends accountability for information security to everyone, empowering you to exit the command-and-control style that makes you a scapegoat for others' mistakes and ultimately is unsuccessful.
  — Jonathan Maurer, CISO


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