Organization Structure and Innovations


Organizational structure fulfils many functions—everyone in the organization knows who he or she reports to; how various repetitive/routine activities are to be discharged; who has what authority and responsibility; how personnel are grouped together (e.g., by departments or divisions); which individuals/groups have decision-making authority and which have primarily advisory functions (line versus staff functions); and what mechanisms are deployed primarily for reducing decision-making uncertainty, for ensuring differentiated or specialized responses to the operating environment, and for coordinating and integrating these differentiated or specialized responses. A well-designed structure that is compatible with strategy or is internally coherent and compatible with the organization’s operating environment tends to contribute to superior organizational performance.

Can organizational structure facilitate innovations? Possibly. Relatively flat managerial hierarchy and extensive decentralization or delegation of authority, including extensive use of profit centers and SBUs.

Certain kinds of structural changes, notably creating many self-contained, substantially autonomous units with stretch targets, extensive delegation of authority to lower level decision-makers, and delayering (removal of some of the managerial levels to reduce the number of approving authorities for innovation)  may increase the potential innovations of the organization.

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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Translating Information into Action


Information must be actionable, if it is to be of value to you. That means it must include a customer profile (most often consisting of demographics and buying behavior—psycho-graphics—that enables you to assign all of your customers to one or another of your defined segments. Unless you’re both ready and able to use the results of all this effort to alter your marketing strategy, your money is probably better spent elsewhere. Segmentation only pays off if you use it to fine tune your marketing program.

If you have computed the lifetime value for each segment, you can now make a very scientific assignment of resources to customer groups. You can be selective in this process. If you choose, focusing on just a few segments—or even one. In fact, that may be a good way to validate your ideas before you institute any large-scale changes in your marketing strategy. The important thing is that you use the information to adapt marketing into a more customer-focused and less product-centered approach.

Often you can finance new marketing initiatives by re-deploying the budgets previously spent in pursuit of unprofitable business, because you can now recognize it for what it is. Screening out can be as important as targeting.

You can then assign an appropriate percentage of your marketing budget to each segment which merits pursuit, echoing the percentage of profits that segment has the potential to generate. Consider members with lower grades within a well-defined, profitable segment as areas of opportunity. You know that companies with a given cluster of needs and buying behaviors can be profitably attracted to your offerings and way of doing business. All that remains is to focus on expanding penetration there.

Put your marketing imagination to work. Because you now understand the priorities of each segment so well, you’ll also know how to determine the most potent messages for each, and the media mix that can best deliver it. In addition, because the economics of each segment are clear, you can develop a plan that matches communications alternatives to allotted budget on a cost-per-contract basis.

As a result, most of your money will be invested where the profit potential for developing loyal customers is the greatest. Whilst this strategy appears to be self-evident, it too seldom happens in real life decision-making, since quantification of potential profitability by market segment is sadly lacking.

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.

Principles of Crisis Management


What does one do when a crisis comes? There are some principles, not rules that can be useful to managers facing a crisis:

Define the real problem: Crises tend to face managers to think short term and focus on the narrow problem at hand. The crisis management team should ask several reflective questions: What would constitute a good job in managing this crisis? What can we accomplish? What is impossible?

Set Goals and Define the Crisis Strategy in Light of Those Goals: The urge to act first, think later is hand to resist when facing a crisis. The better the course is to have some managers actively thinking about the goals—What do we want to accomplish? How do we want to be perceived by the media? By our shareholders? By our employees and customers?

Manage the flow of Information: Experts advise managers to tell the story their way, consistently, and frequently. Because electronic media repeat crisis stories quite frequently in a typical news day, managers have an opportunity to correct errors and should not permit an erroneous statement to stand unchallenged.

Adopt a Team Approach: It is important to have one spokesperson designated at the outset and available to act on the company’s behalf immediately. Successful companies have thought in advance about the skills each crisis team should possess. Legal, media, and government relations skills are essential in many crisis situations.

Plan for the worst case: A crisis always has the potential to worsen, and managers need to anticipate the worst case possibility. It is tempting to assume a crisis will pass and the world will return to normal. It is wise to prepare for the worst.

Plan on the Situation Getting Worse: By doing so, an organization can begin to see ahead and create contingency plans for communicating with key stakeholders, deploying resources, and organizing other companies and people for action.

Follow up after the Crisis is Over: Many contacts with stakeholders occur during a crisis. A company can restore its image and reputation by dedicated follow-up to stakeholders.

Use Technology: Information technology can be a powerful aid to a company facing a crisis and needing to communicate with stakeholders. A company should measure the effectiveness of communication message through polling, surveys, and focus-group interviews.

Don’t Give up: As bad as it can be for an organization, a crisis rarely destroys a well-managed business. Leadership is vital if an organization’s internal and external stakeholders are to believe that there is a bright future beyond the crisis.

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.

Definitions of Strategy


Strategy: the science of planning and directing military operations, a plan or action based on this; skill in managing or planning, esp. by using stratagems. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

Stratagems: a trick or plan for deceiving an enemy in war; any trick or scheme. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

Strategic: sound in strategy; advantageous; needed for carrying on war; directed against the military and industrial installations of the enemy. (Collins Pocket Dictionary, 1986)

A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. The word strategy has military connotations, because it derives from the Greek word for general. A strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. Strategy may also refer to:

  • Business strategy, the art and science of enabling an organization to achieve its objective
    • Marketing Strategy, a process that allows an organization to increase sales and achieve a competitive advantage
    • Technology strategy, a document that explains how information technology should be used as part of a business strategy
    • Digital strategy, the process of specifying an organization’s processes to deploy online assets
  • Trading strategy, a predefined set of rules to apply in finance (Wikipedia)

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.

Corporate Structure in the Global Economy


Corporate structures will be increasingly expected to deal with tension-producing forces, as well as compressive ones. Among them is the tendency for companies to become increasingly spread thin as they respond to an expanding multitude of masters. And it is likely that both employees and their governments will take their turn demanding greater attention to their particular needs and requirements. On top of these whiplash-inducing pressures will be the ongoing operational tensions arising from the continuing use of speed as a competitive weapon.

 

As if these ongoing pushes and pulls will not be enough of a challenge, most businesses will also face the requirement to be more flexible than ever in deploying and redeploying resources to mact the moving targets provided by customers’ requirements and competitors’ advances. The globalizing marketplace tends to be unforgiving when corporate inertia or bureaucracy limits flexibility. This degree of organizational elasticity—stretching to accommodate special situations, then returning to the original shape to meet regular demands—is already a necessity in many industries. Soon it will be mandatory in most.

 

A measure of plasticity will be needed, as well. The ability to change an organization’s shape, to adapt to new markets or to reconfigure around emerging capabilities, will be another dynamic quality in the repertoire of the new corporation. This attribute—the ability to reorganize completely every several years without succumbing to terminal brittleness—is a rarity in most companies today. But it will be common among those that thrive into this 21st Century.

 

Just as architects have never found a single, always appropriate building block for every structure, organization designers are also unlikely to find one. But the old building blocks of narrowly defined jobs used in tandem with traditional supervision are not working. Perhaps the lead of the architect can be followed, and companies can learn to select organizational building blocks that can be adjusted to cope with the forces they face at a particular time. In keeping with what has worked for the architect, organization planners can:

  • Reinforce jobs to ensure they have the strength to resist the tensions and compressions they must increasingly cope with.
  • Use the organizational equivalent of composites—teams—when job reinforcement alone is insufficient to provide the company with an appropriate degree of flexibility.
  • Make sure that the company’s managers are in load-bearing roles—ones vital to the organization’s structural integrity—and act as drivers of the business’s ongoing adaptability, rather than mere definers of unneeded internal walls.

 Reinforced jobs, composite teams, and load-bearing managers—these may well be the most useful raw materials from which the structure of the corporation is shaped.

 

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