Defining effective organizational structure for research labs is a contextually challenging issue in the field of systems engineering. Maintaining a balance between subsystem autonomy and system cohesion has proven difficult to achieve throughout R&D industry. Multiple system perspectives are always present across divisions and project based funding contributes to competing priorities. Because of the complexity of group interactions, communication channels, and emergent behaviors, the actual system is virtually impossible to represent. These systems are often reduced to a simpler abstraction in a hope to deal with the complexity. People then hope (often naively) that the constructed policies, procedures, and organizational charts will provide adequate utility to manage the complex system.
Jefferson Lab uses a hybrid of functional and matrixed organizational structures to support reliable accelerator operations. Divisions within the laboratory include engineering, physics, and accelerator as well as largely independent cryogenics and SRF groups. Each has their own required skill sets and priorities. Constant emergent issues result from separate divisions managing their own engineering staff while sharing system responsibilities with groups from other divisions. Boundaries are often ambiguous and challenge the viability of the system’s organizational structure presenting significant challenges to work planning and management.
Key concepts of organizational theory, system theory, and viable system modeling provide insights to address these challenges and will be presented in the context of accelerator and lab operations.