Further Thoughts on Org Structures…


…as enablers of PERFORMANCE and CULTURE

MATRICED ORGANIZATIONS – have distinctive multi-stakeholder intersections and, better than any other structure, help institutionalize the mitigation of corporate and operational risk. The very distributed lines of accountability and responsibility, the root of this mitigation; as anything flowing through the system will require multiple layers of assessment, input and approval… a necessity for organizations and industries that are heavily regulated and under close scrutiny, a counter-intuitive process for those businesses that require lesser levels of internal control.

HIERARCHAL ORGANIZATIONS – are human instinctive and thus, the most common form of structure; where one person or a group of individuals, set policy and direct the goods and services produced by such entity through employed or contracted others. Consequently, such organization will naturally consolidate or compress “power” at or near its top levels which, although operationally efficient, often result in much lesser corporate transparency and can more easily become the stage-set for dangerous governance behavior. The concentration of power-at-the-top is not a “bad thing” per se…but it certainly is a “volatile thing” both; when it is “real” and more so when it is “perceived”; especially without a robust set of independent and effective checks & balances.

FLAT ORGANIZATIONS – aim to streamline their structure as close to one dispersed leadership layer as possible… a continuum of functional responsibility and/or accountability which is governed by consensual majority. These too have their place in the organizational puzzle; there’s more opportunity to explore the serendipity in-between people and ideas, whilst events and projects do flow faster through the system… however, such structure; which necessitates a great deal of stakeholder self-discipline and confidence (if not downright boldness), is not for the faint-at-heart, can easily lead to excesses as well as governance lapses and often is harder to manage than the challenging matrix format.

In the end, all organizations should adopt a structure that best supports its objectives after a “balanced” analysis of the good and not-so-good traits and aspects of each format, as very few things are all good or all bad. BUT…

We all should be mindful that; organizational structures provide only a background to facilitate interactive protocols, no structure will actually achieve or deliver anything… only PEOPLE; performing within the context of these structures (and sometimes stretching their envelopes), can actually make them work effectively or not… which very naturally leads to;

VISION, DIRECTION AND CULTURE – by “Vision” I do not mean the average corporate statement all of us at times snicker about. Vision statements should be lofty and bold, slightly out-of-reach and a powerful reflection of what an organization truly aspires to be and/or achieve… thus requiring the continued building of organizational “bridges of understanding” to translate and link them to specific and measurable objectives and actions throughout the organization. This is a key aspect and responsibility of Leadership regardless of org structure format; to embed, defend and drive (thus making it “real”) the vision of an organization into becoming a key part of its daily ethos.

Management Teams, when aligned and either enlightened or within enlightened organizations, tend to achieve this through a collaborative and informed effort, taking on-board their own intellect and experience, the input from benchmarked competitors, customers/markets, and the voices of the whole internal organization not necessarily in that order. All of it… working together and in-synch become an enterprise’s “Culture” me thinks; the foundational component that binds and supports all people interact, govern and out-deliver consistently.

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About JP
"There is nothing to be found in a beehive that is not submerged in a bee. Yet we may explore a bee forever and still never find a hive..." Kevin Kelly's - Out of Control

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