View from the Top


Consider the chief executive’s perspective. When a CEO looks at the company, several features stand out most sharply. These are the traditional components of corporate structure: divisions, functional departments, strategic business units, and subsidiaries. They are the activities over which the chief executive has responsibility. They form the mental model the top leadership has of the business. Most companies take these components for granted as their basic subunits.

Unfortunately, these components cloud more than clarify the perspective most essential to the intelligent resizing of a company’s work.

When changes are made in a company’s strategy, or when changes outside its control make readjustment or retrenchment necessary, the lines and boxes on the company’s organization chart are also frequently shifted. These moves usually seem to make good sense at the time—from just following function, after all—but as the retrospective research indicates, moving the boxes and redrawing the lines do not always pay off.

This happens because, frequently, the wrong question is being asked. The search is usually for the “best” organizational configuration: flat, functional, divisional, matrix, or some hybrid. This issue, which eventually does need to be addressed, is premature if it is the first thing that comes to mind when considering the company as a whole. It diverts attention from careful consideration of the “functionality” that the “form” is being adapted to. It also makes the company susceptible to the management fad of the moment, so that a means because the goal: how can we flatten our structure, use cross-departmental teams, or become an information-based organization? These are all potentially useful tactics, but for what end?

This type of organization, driven from the top down, is one that deals with the structures for doing things, rather than the things that need doing. Its view of the boxes on the organization chart too often goes no deeper than the head count the boxes contain. This perspective is troublesome and can be misleading, but even more dangerous is the viewpoint provided by some contemporary forms of strategic planning.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Creativogenic Management Style


Management style can both impede innovations and facilitate them. The old firms—once dynamic and vibrant—today fail in terms of deficient management style and resulting ineffective culture and structure. Such firms are managed on machinistic lines, with strong belief in centralization and extreme specialization of functions. This means that coordination of interdepartmental activities is done mainly by the head of the concern. Strong departmental loyalties bred by lifelong career paths only within the functional department make interdepartmental collaboration very easy. Information flows mainly vertically rather than also diagnolly and horizontally. A strong hieracrch-bound operating culture saps initiative at lower levels. An organic mode of management is much more suitable in technological change-driven turbulent markets like electronics. In this mode, solving technical problems is the priority, not maintaining functional turfs, and so decisions emerge through interactions rather than being made by the formally designated bosses. Also, the expert in the situation—who could be quite a junior fellow—calls the shots rather than the formal boss. People interact disregarding departmental boundaries, picking brains and sharing information, and most decisions are taken—or rather, emerge—at middle and lower levels of management. Thus, a fluid, boundaryless, highly interactive, expertise-based management is more suitable for managing technological innovations than a mechanistic, bureaucratic, semi-feudal form.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Behavior of Committees


Committees are formally constituted bodies characterized by periodic, intermittent, or temporary rather than continuous functioning. Purposes for conducting a committee meeting almost always include an objective of gaining or maintaining inter-group coordination and/or cooperation. Staff or subgroup meetings have analogous purposes on the group level of analysis.

 

Committees integrate organizational behavior vertically in the authority hierarchy and/or horizontally across group boundaries. Committees may function primarily as a formal communications medium for one-way dissemination of information from above at one extreme all the way to omni-directional informational sharing (e.g., new projects, problems, etc.) at the other. Two other common committee functions are problem solving (e.g., performing a technical design, cost and schedule feasibility assessment) or decision making (e.g., adjusting and approving departmental overhead budgets for the upcoming three months).

 

There are both advantages and disadvantages to employing committees for any, or any combination, of these functions. The net effectiveness is emergent and is no doubt influenced by the nature of the tasks to be performed, the time available, the people involved, and primary task groups represented as well as other situational factors.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight