Building Smart Organizations With The Agile Canvas

We've been classically using the Canvas for organizing strategic planning and project management. In the emerging era of Holacracy, whose principles the Canvas process share, it's time to consider how to use the Canvas in building smart organizations.

Smart organizations are designed for optimum speed, trust, alignment, collaboration and responsiveness to change. The Canvas is ideally positioned to build and sustain smart organization.

I would propose that a smart organization has a handful of vital patterns. We call these patterns rather than structures because patterns are more intelligent, responsive and connected. They represent the core principles of the Canvas.

  1. The Canvas is used to facilitate all forms of decision making, planning, status updates, conflict resolution, idea sessions, reviews, critiques as well as planned and spontaneous meetings
  2. All decisions are facilitated by decision pairs who are on the higher end of having had experience with those decisions
  3. When decision processes begin, an individual is selected by the decision pair to make an ultimate decision in the event when no conclusive decisions seem possible
  4. All tasks are taken on in pairs who bring complementary experiences and knowledge to the task
  5. Each work team decides together on the nature of their work, key relationships and the engagement of people in tasks
  6. The organization has at-large people call Synapses, 1 for every 5 teams, whose work is to monitor, create and grow connections between and among work teams so all intentions, questions and sprints are aligned
  7. All synapses convene every 2 quarters to assess and establish any consistencies that must occur organization-wide and to make sure all teams have updated and aligned strategic maps
  8. Each work team does its own purchasing of resources including tangible and intangible assets, talents and inputs to their work, compensation for team members, including purchases across teams where each team acts as a potential vendor partner to other teams
  9. Teams are facilitated by regularly rotated facilitators from within the team; feedback is continuous making annual reviews unneccsary and barriers to learning
  10. Teams sustain a robust team composition and resource network of relevant subject matter experts and generalists; former leaders can fall into either or both categories

These patterns are designed for optimum speed, trust, alignment, learning, collaboration and responsiveness to change.