Whether you are a startup company, planning to build an organization, or a company that’s grown over the years, you would probably set it up in a typical mode of functional expertise and put together a hierarchical structure with tasks and job descriptions.

This may serve the purpose of delivery, provided the person has the necessary skill sets. Will this be enough? Not really, as in addition to job responsibilities a person will have link and system responsibilities. And the moment you include link and system responsibilities, you start defining roles that will include behavioral aspects.

What these roles are, how we describe these roles, and what the role effectiveness measures are have been defined in Tensegrity Mandala ™ model, designed and developed by TAO.

The purpose of the TAO Tensegrity Mandala model is to facilitate organisation design with role descriptions to implement systems;

  • where there is a total harnessing of all resources.
  • where every individual member of the organisation deploys his full potential and creates value, i.e. the goal is zero waste of human potential.
  • where every member feels valued.

Tensegrity Mandala works on the premise that an organization is a living, breathing entity where people play out roles based on their function and position to achieve the goals set.

It is a generic model for an organization that helps the organization map the intention, processes and roles that need to be played by its members while responding to its major stakeholders. The four key stakeholders of the organization are mapped on to the four vertices of the tetrahedron: The share holder/investor, the customer/market, the employee and the technology holders.

As you can see from the picture there are six links of processes termed tensions between each of the voices and the key questions (illustrative) to be addressed in each are:

Voice of Wealth to Voice of Market is the tension of Strategizing – What are the market dynamics? What does the market/customer want? What should be the product portfolio?

Voice of Wealth to Voice of Technology is the tension of Investing– What new technologies should we invest in? How much should we spend in R & D?  What modernization plans should we embark on?

Voice of Wealth to Voice of Employee is the tension of Valuing – How we do create context for growth? How do we invest in people? What do we expect from the individual?

Voice of Technology to Voice of Market is the tension of Improving – What is the effectiveness and efficiency of the delivery system? What are the areas where the improvements will be most rewarding to our customer? What can we learn from the work place?

Voice of Technology to Voice of Employee is the tension of Energizing – What does work mean to each member of the organisation? How can we make it more meaningful? What can each person do to improve the teamwork?

Voice of Employee to Voice of Market is the tension of Serving – What are the customer expectations? Where do our products/services fit into the customer’s operation? How do we maintain an effective dialogue with him?


The insights and critical success factors that are articulated in the process of dialogue and discussion around these questions forms the basis on which the roles necessary to empower the organization are defined. So who should answer these questions and how does this translate into roles is the next part of the model where we now add the roles for each nodal point and present to you the Tensegrity Mandala set of roles.

There are 17 basic roles in each nodal point and these role descriptors are specific to the tension they are linked to. Each role has three to five sets of role effectiveness measures, and on the selected role sets, each individual and his/her superior ranks the levels on a 5 level scale of:

  1. Rarely demonstrated
  2. Inconsistent Demonstration
  3. Consistent Demonstration
  4. Demonstration as expert
  5. Can coach others

So what does this indicate? This indicates whether the role holder has the behavioral capability to fulfill the roles and thereby ensure there is:

a) Fulfillment of the particular process requirements of Strategizing, Investing, Valuing, Improving, Energizing, Serving as the case may be

b) And if not, plan on a development agenda to build the requisite capabilities to fulfill current roles and be geared to take the next higher role.

The discovery process is fun through a development center that TAO has uniquely designed and a journey that has helped many people discover their potential to do well in their current roles and be ready for future growth.

The tetrahedron as the model of an organization is the basic framework through which we present the seminal ideas. This tetrahedron model has been developed by Mr. Prasad Kaipa, Consultant and Managing director of ‘The Mithya Institute of Learning and Knowledge architecture”, Campbell, California.