Exploring the Fourth Order
Designing Organisational Infrastructure
Keywords:corporate infrastructure, fourth order design, action research, design process, innovation
Companies are organised to fulfil two distinctive functions: efficient and resilient exploitation of current business and parallel exploration of new possibilities. For the latter, companies require strong organisational infrastructure such as team compositions and functional structures to ensure exploration remains effective. This paper explores the potential for designing organisational infrastructure to be part of fourth order subject matter. In particular, it explores how organisational infrastructure could be designed in the context of an exploratory unit, operating in a large heritage airline. This paper leverages insights from a long-term action research project and finds that building trust and shared frames are crucial to designing infrastructure that affords the greater explorative agenda of an organisation.