The “self-organizing” project”: a “systemic” view of the design and project processes


Author: Michel de Blois

This paper examines the phenomenon that allows the built environment (design) project to organize itself and carry out its objectives. The hypothesis states that: projects influence, transform and create the organizations and processes that conduct them, following a dynamic and iterative process, referred to as «self- organizing » and «  structuring ». This « active organizing » process generates transformations – organizational and structural – conditioned by the very nature of the project itself. To support this assumption (hypothesis), an ontological frame, based on four categories of analysis has been devised, including: (a) organization and structures; (b) the project and its processes; (c) the artefact and its design, and; (d) actors’ dynamic. These knowledge fields are put in relations using systemic principles and tools within the paradigmatic frame of complexity. This research, through case studies and case surveys, explores the following topics:(1) the design thinking approach to projects and actors’ dynamic behavior ; (2) the informality of communications and coordination ; (3) contingency factors that influence the « structuring » of the temporary multiorganization – TMO;  (4) the typologies of the TMO, and ; (5) the study of iterative processes and their influence on organizational structures. The analysis produced a set of seven results. They help validate sub-hypotheses that state that: a process of «self-organization » generates transformations – organizational and processual – linked to the specific nature of the project. Therefore, the project : (1) is conducted by both formalized and often linear management approaches as well as  iterative design process, the former being non-linear and self-organizing and responding to systemic principles ; (2) contributes to create its own processes of development, and ; (3) constitutes a contingency factor that influences the structuring of the TMO that is created to conduct the project itself. Two important contributions are drawn from these conclusions : (1) the existence of inter-organizational work constellations; (2) the statement of the « organizing  project » that, through the « self-organization » approach, « organizes » itself and the processes and organization that are created to conduct it.

Presentation & paper

Posted September 2013 content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium.