A playbook for purpose-driven, self-managing organizations

Working alongside SAP to define the principles of New Work and understand the needs for a new approach to enterprise management.
The starting point for this project was the hypothesis that current enterprise management systems will not be suitable for the organizations of the future, which are radically re-inventing the way they work.

In a joint qualitative research effort, IXDS and SAP distilled key new work principles that make these innovative organizations function in practice, and defined opportunity areas for SAP to become a partner in this innovation process.


Based on desk research and intense working sessions between IXDS and SAP, the assumption was built that organizations will change from top-down-led "machines" to self-managing organisms driven by a higher purpose beyond money making. This assumption is brought to the point in F. Laloux’s famous book Reinventing Organizations.

To understand in-depth how such businesses function in practice and what type of enterprise management support they need, a team of experienced IXDS researchers and service designers led interviews with 8 experts in the field of new work, as well as members of four highly progressive organizations already living the new work paradigm.

In a very iterative process and with various joint working sessions between IXDS and SAP, we described the fundamental shift in mindset and elaborated the key principles that are prerequisite to make these organizations function in practice.

As IXDS itself is in transition to such a purpose-driven, self-managing organization, the team could rely on very personal experience in working in a growing organization that is trying to re-invent itself.


The core result of the project is a Playbook for purpose-driven, self-managing organizations. While it is of course impossible to provide "recipes" for the organizations of the future, this Playbook describes the key actors in such organizations, along with their key responsibilities in regards to topic corner stones. The Playbook makes the it tangible by providing a visual representation of what New Work actually means.

This structure allowed IXDS and SAP to jointly identify opportunity areas for SAP as a provider of enterprise management software and coaching.

The Playbook gained high visibility within SAP and led to workshops with various teams in the organization, rethinking SAP’s role for businesses.

Subsequent projects will extend the research to cover specific topics and start prototyping solutions together with pioneering organizations and experts in the field.