Domain-Driven Organisation Design

Who are we?

Multinational long-distance bus transportation provider

60 million passengers since 2012, 20 million in 2015 alone

1000 destinations in 20 countries

100.000 connections per day

Proud sponsors of #DDDEU

Company X failed to adapt

A random business news outlet

Complexity theory and organization studies find some common ground in the concept of adaptation to change

Henry J. Coleman, Jr.

Can we derive some core principles to create organisations that inhibit the "Adaptivity" property from complexity theory?

Organisations are
Complex Adaptive Systems


What is our organisation?



A system of...
Copyright: OpenStax College - License:

Characteristics of a
successful CAS

1.) Self-Organising

2.) Emergent

3.) Non-Linear

4.) Order/Chaos Dynamics

A modern organisation design must facilitate or respect these four defining characteristics in order to be successful.


1.) Self-Organisation

2.) Emergence

3.) Non-Linearity

4.) Order/Chaos Dynamics

Autonomy is key to enabling self-organizing behaviour.

Autonomy without direction will eventually drive any complex system into chaos

An attractor is a point within a system that drives agents close to it into a stable state.

Not being eaten by a shark

For individuals attractors constitute the supervening goals of meaning and moral.

Susan David - "Beyond Goals - Effective Strategies For Coaching And Mentoring"

There is a multitude of attractors that influence agents' behaviour.

So initiating a change project deals with changes in the individual's cognitive attractors; the anchors in their belief system.

Change agents



Change Agent

Change Agents influence attractors while the individual agent makes its own choice of changing the behaviour.

A cognitive attractor that drives unwanted behaviour

Invest into Change agents!


Context Switching


They provide the activation energy to start the reaction within the system affecting other agents who themselves become change agents!


Organisational Identity

Shared Vision

Agents must understand how each action in their context contributes to the organisation's goals and values.

Aligning Identity

This must be an intrinsic effect and cannot be done by just reading some documents.









Each agent always knows how much value it delivered on every level.





OKRs are one way!

At FlixBus we are currently implementing an OKR framework that tracks each contribution for any employee that is visible at any time.

It also allows agents to interact with other agents on any goal or outcome.

Types of change agents at FlixBus

People Managers (People)

Agile Coaches (Processes)

Product/Outcome Owners (Purpose & Identity)

1.) Self-Organisation

2.) Emergence

3.) Non-Linearity

4.) Order/Chaos Dynamics

Sophisticated behaviour can result from simple interactions of simple things.

Organizational emergence is not simply organizational change. It is continuous social and technological re-construction.

and Value Potential

Ability to form new organisational structures independently with minimal friction

Experiments and value potential exploration need to be part of every day activities

Create and share new goals and outcomes and manipulate global values from results of experimentation

1.) Self-Organisation

2.) Emergence

3.) Non-Linearity

4.) Order/Chaos Dynamics

Predictability in Complex Adaptive Systems is limited to global patterns rather than the chaotic local details.

Value as the global pattern

In order to succeed we need to understand how our system is actually producing value!

Understand your different

Value Streams!

Operational Value Streams

People who interact with the system to achieve their goals.

Development Value Streams

People who build the system.

Temporal sequence of events required to design, produce, and provide a valuable outcome, and along which information, materials, and worth flows.

Wait! Temporal? Events?

Value Stream Event Model

Value Stream Event Model!

Event Storming a value stream. Event Storming an app design, Event Storming a legacy codebase. #EventStorm All The Things!

Dan North




Schedule was

Ride was

Pricing Strategy attached

Idea for
new line

Team A

Team B

Team C

GoLive Community

An example!

Getting a new Schedule available for the customer

1.) Self-Organisation

2.) Emergence

3.) Non-Linearity

4.) Order/Chaos Dynamics

Cynefin Framework

Missing Topics

Nested Systems (Team Dynamics)

Measuring Value/Realized Potential


Initiate the change reaction by introducing change agents into the system

Let agents create their own identity aligned with the organisation's goals and values by making the agent's value generation traceable and visible at all levels

Govern for value and potential exploration/realisation over predictability and plans and have a simple and easy process for new organisational structures to emerge as a response to these activities

Links & Literature

Thank you!


Catch me on Twitter!

Domain-Driven Organisation Design

By Thomas Ploch

Domain-Driven Organisation Design

I am trying to explore how the properties of Complex Adaptive Systems can contribute towards an adaptable organisation design, and what conclusions we at FlixBus have drawn from these insights.

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