Basic Organizational Structures


Although there is an almost infinite variety of structural forms, certain basic types predominate in modern complex organizations. There are three basic organizational structures. The conglomerate structure is a variant of divisional structure and is thus not depicted as a fourth structure. Generally speaking, each structure tends to support some corporate strategies over others.

  • Simple Structure has no functional or product categories and is appropriate for a small, entrepreneur-dominated company with one or two product lines that operates in a reasonably small, easily identifiable market niche. Employees tend to be generalists and jacks of all trades.
  • Functional structure is appropriate for a medium-sized firm with several related product lines in one industry. Employees tend to be specialists in the business functions important to that industry, such as manufacturing, marketing, finance, and human resources.
  • Divisional structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several related industries. Employees tend to be functional specialists organized.
  • Strategic business units (SBU)are a recent modification to the divisional structure. Strategic business units are divisions or groups of divisions composed of independent product-market segments that are given primary responsibility and authority for the management of their own functional areas. An SBU may be of any size or level, but it must have 1) a unique mission, 2) identifiable competitors, 3)an external market focus, and 4) control of its business functions. The idea is to decentralize on the basis of strategic elements rather than on the basis of size, product characteristics, or span of control and to create horizontal linkages among units previously kept separate.
  • Conglomerate structure is appropriate for a large corporation with many product lines in several unrelated industries. A variant of the divisional structure, the conglomerate structure (sometimes called a holding company) is typically an assemblage of legally independent firms (subsidiaries) operating under one corporate umbrella but controlled through the subsidiaries’ boards of directors. The unrelated nature of the subsidiaries prevents any attempt at gaining synergy among them.

If the current basic structure of corporation does not easily support a strategy under consideration, top management must decide if the proposed strategy is feasible or if the structure should be changed to a more advanced structure.

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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Deficit Budget


If you do not earn enough to cover your expenses and show some profit, then you have to consider what to do about it. There are four possibilities:

  1. You can raise your rates, something that, ironically, freelancers seem most reluctant to do, it is the first thing most business owners would think of doing in such a situation, if they possibly could.
  2. You can increase your workload. This is feasible in some fields and not in others. Most editors, for example, cannot learn to edit any faster, and their income is limited by how much they can physically accomplish. On the other hand, you may subcontract, that is, hire someone to work for you and take part of his or her earnings. This works especially well if you can find someone to train who wants to learn you trade. You can also often subcontract with colleagues when they are in slow periods.
  3. You can expand into related kinds of work that pay better or that you can do faster. One editor, learned to do indexing. Fewer people have indexing skills compared to the number who copy-edit, and the hourly rate for indexing is higher than for copy-editing and proofreading.
  4. Finally, you can reduce your expectations. While freelancers can do and earn a healthy living, free-lancing will probably not make you rich. As a general rule, unless rare luck strikes, or you are willing to expand through subcontracting or finding new and more lucrative areas in which to work, your income will probably not soar dramatically. On the other hand, it should rise steadily, and it must keep pace with inflation.

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.

Management by Objectives


To provide a framework within which to evaluate subordinates’ behavior and, in particular, to allow managers to monitor progress toward achieving goals, many organizations implement some version of management by objectives. Management by objectives is a system of evaluating subordinates for their ability to achieve specific organizational goals or performance standards and to meet operating budgets. Most organizations make some use of management by objectives because it is pointless to establish goals and then fail to evaluate whether or not they are being achieved. Management by objectives involves three specific steps:

  1. Specific goals and objectives are established at each level of the organization. Management by objectives starts when top managers establish overall organizational objectives, such as specific financial performance targets. Then objective-setting cascades down throughout the organization as managers at the divisional and functional levels set their objectives to achieve corporate objectives. Finally, first-level managers and workers jointly set objectives that will contribute to achieving functional goals.
  2. Managers and their subordinates together determine the subordinates’ goals. An important characteristic of management by objectives is its participatory nature. Managers at every level sit down with the subordinate managers who report directly to them and together they determine appropriate and feasible goals for the subordinate, and bargain over the budget that the subordinate will need so as to achieve these goals. The participation of subordinates in the objective-setting process is a way of strengthening their commitment to achieving their goals and meeting their budgets. Another reason why it is so important for subordinates (both individuals and teams) to participate in goal setting is so they can tell managers what they think they can realistically achieve.
  3. Managers and their subordinates periodically review the subordinates’ progress toward meeting goals. Once specific objectives have been agreed upon for managers at each level, managers are accountable for meeting those objectives. Periodically, they sit down with their subordinates to evaluate their progress. Normally, salary raises and promotions are linked to the goal-setting process, and managers who achieve their goals receive greater rewards than those who fall short.

In the companies that have decentralized responsibility for the production of goods and services to teams, particularly cross-functional teams, management by objectives works somewhat differently. Managers ask each team to develop a set of goals and performance targets that the team hopes to achieve—goals that are consistent with organizational objectives. Managers then negotiate with each team to establish its final goals and the budget the team will need to achieve them. The reward system is linked to team performance, not to the performance of any one team member.

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

An Advice to Change Leaders: Persuade Indirectly


In large organizations, it is not feasible to persuade people through one-on-one communication. Particularly, if the organization is multi-locational, persuasion has to be through indirect means such as memos, speeches and newsletters. Change leaders also need to build capabilities in persuading others indirectly. The following guidelines can help managers be effective in indirect persuasion:

  1. Neutralize the power of informal networks: Change leaders need to develop reliable communication channels to communicate their change agenda directly to employees in the organization. Otherwise people will rely on informal grapevine that can distort the change message either unintentionally or deliberately. In either case, employees may develop unfavorable perceptions of the change agenda leading to opposition and resistance. Communication channels such as employee forums, town meetings and special newsletters can counter the grapevine and informal networks. Change leaders must be particularly careful in not withholding bad news because such news gets out very quickly into the grapevine.
  2. Repeat the message: Focus and repetition are critical for effective communication. This means that the change agenda should consist of only a limited number (two or three, at best) of themes. These themes need to be repeated and reinforced through different communication channels.
  3. Match the medium to the message: Speeches and video-conferences are ideal to communicate vision and values; these media are also appropriate to inspire people to embrace change. On the other hand, data, graphs and charts are best conveyed in the written form—such as memos, newsletters and web pages. Change leaders must think very carefully about appropriate media before communicating their change agenda.
  4. Simplify the message: The change agenda needs to be conveyed through a framework that is conceptually simple and easy to grasp. Yet, change leaders must avoid the trap of oversimplification. Oversimplified messages sound trite and faddish and can significantly reduce the credibility of the communicator. Simple frameworks are easy to remember, and are also powerful in framing the change agenda to mobilize support.
  5. Create a new story about change: Stories constitute a powerful medium to mobilize support. People are more likely to remember stories rather than facts and figures. Stories are also more effective in persuading people to alter their perceptions of change. Therefore change leaders need to be able to craft their change agenda in the form of story.
  6. Build personal credibility: Change leaders who are respected, considered trustworthy and competent are more likely to be effective in persuading their employees to embrace change. Personal credibility is built on the foundation of consistency. Change leaders must demonstrate consistency between their thoughts, words and behavior. Inconsistent, self-serving behavior can severely erode the credibility of a leader.

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

The Dynamics of Social Responsibility


The various stakeholders of a firm can be divided into inside stakeholders and outside stakeholders. The insiders are the individuals or groups that are stakeholders or employees of the firm. The outsiders are all the other individuals or groups that the firm’s actions affect. The extremely large and often amorphous set of outsiders makes the general claim that the firm be socially responsible.

Perhaps the thorniest issues faced in defining a company mission are those that pertain to responsibility. The stakeholder approach offers the clearest perspective on such issues. Broadly stated, outsiders often demand that insider’s claims be subordinated to the greater good of the society; that is, to the greater good of the outrsiders. They believe that such issues as pollution, the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, and the conservation of natural resources should be principal consideration in strategic decision making. Also broadly stated, insiders tend to believe that the competing claims of outsiders should be balanced against one another in a way that protects the company mission. For example, they tend to believe that the need of consumers for a product should be balanced against the water pollution resulting from its production if the firm cannot eliminate that pollution entirely and still remain profitable. Some insiders also argue that the claims of society, as expressed in government regulation, provide tax money that can be used to eliminate water pollution and the like if the general public wants this to be done.

The issues are numerous, complex, and contingent on specific situations. Thus, rigid rules of business conduct cannot deal with them. Each firm regardless of size must decide how to meet its perceived social responsibility. While large, well-capitalized companies may have easy access to environmental consultants, this is not an affordable strategy for smaller companies. However, the experience of many small businesses demonstrates that it is feasible to accomplish significant pollution prevention and waste reduction without big expenditures and without hiring consultants. Once a problem area has been identified, a company’s line employees frequently can develop a solution. Other important pollution prevention strategies include changing the materials used or redesigning how operations are bid out. Making pollution prevention a social responsibility can be beneficial to smaller companies. Publicly traded firms also can benefit directly from socially responsible strategies.

Different approaches adopted by different firms reflect differences in competitive position, industry, country, environmental and ecological pressures, and a host of other factors. In other words, they will reflect both situational factors and differing priorities in the acknowledgement of claims. Obviously, winning the loyalty of the growing legions of consumers will require new marketing strategies and new alliances in the 21st Century. Many marketers already have discovered these new marketing realities by adopting strategies called the “4 Es.” 1) make it easy for the consumer to be green, 2) empower consumers with solutions, 3) enlist the support of the consumer, and 4) establish credibility with all publics and help to avoid a backlash.

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

Synergizing Training Strategy with Corporate Strategy


The primary objective of synergy is that employees acquire all the skills and knowledge they need, but only what they need. What do they really need? Whatever is essential to formulate and fulfill a successful corporate strategy? Certain skills and knowledge are needed to determine what products and services the company should produce, and what kinds of technology should be used to produce them; other skills and knowledge are needed in order to apply new technologies most profitably.

Those who determine corporate strategy must calculate whether the organization is capable of acquiring strategically necessary skills and knowledge on schedule. In learning companies, therefore, a senior officer in charge of training takes part in formulating strategy. That individual can also advise whether a more ambitious strategy would be feasible from the standpoint of training, and can help subsequently to communicate the strategy to all parts of the organization.

Communication of the strategy is vital. Trainees and their supervisors take training seriously only when they believe it will further the company’s prosperity and their own. If they do not understand the skill and learning requirements of the corporate strategy, they cannot make valid decisions on how to achieve strategic goals.

Ultimately, it is the chief executive’s responsibility to see that the training requirements of corporate strategy are met. The key points to be monitored are program priorities, program objectives, and program outcomes.

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