The Trend Toward Organic

We’ve all heard this recipe for disaster – too many bosses! When there are too many people taking charge or too many people to report to, a particular arrangement becomes very difficult to work in. Messaging gets lost in the convolution, you get conflicting information from various “bosses” and it all seems highly inefficient. Structure puts everybody in line, and a good structure clearly defines everybody’s role.

In addition to pointing out the ineffectiveness of an outdated organizational structure, Gill Corkindale points out that. “[In an organization with an unclear structure] responsibilities can be overlooked, staffing can be inappropriate, and people — and even functions — can work against each other.” (Corkindale, 2011).

This funny animation about waiting in line sums up a poor organizational structure really well – it may look like there is order, but in reality people (or bears) are going back and forth and have no idea where they should really be. They can end up in the wrong line, the longer line, and waste more time doing their task inefficiently.

http://youtu.be/kIiPa3V6O2g

Many newer organizations operate under an organic model. That is, a flat structure using cross-hierarchal and cross-functional teams. They have low formalization and rely on collaborative decision making. (Robbins & Langton, 2003, p. 446)

This table below compares a Mechanistic Structure (hierarchal, highly formalized, stereo-typical things we think of when we think of an organizational structure) to an Organic Structure.

Image

source: http://www.analytictech.com/mb021/organic_vs_mechanistic_structure.htm

While of course it is important to have a clear leader, there is no denying that employees will be more motivated when empowered to make some of their own decisions. Coca Cola recognizes both these needs in their structure, and functions with a hybrid of both a mechanistic and organic structure. It is common for regular meetings between top managers and employees to keep one another up-to-date on the operations of the company. With these organic characteristics, there is still a level of formality in decision making to ensure consistency throughout the brand.  (Valluri, Nahata, Jangalwa, & Sethi, 2010, pp 11-15)

A fusion of both these structures can ensure the greatest amount of efficiency. Imagine if there was one person directing the bears in the video. The bears are free to pick whichever queue they like. If there is a person managing the lines and making sure everybody is moving at a fair pace and not being held up at the desk, the bears won’t switch back and forth and end up wasting time and resources.

Thought of the day: Food or organizational structure – a bit of organic never hurt anybody!

Sources

Borgatti, S. P. (2001, September). Organic vs Mechanistic Structures . Introduction to Organizational Behaviour. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://www.analytictech.com/mb021/organic_vs_mechanistic_structure.htm

Corkindale, G. (2011, February 11). The Importance of Organizational Design and Structure. HBR. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://blogs.hbr.org/corkindale/2011/02/the_importance_of_organization.html

Robbins, S. P., & Langton, N. (2003). Chapter 12- Organizational Structure. InOrganizational Behaviour: Concepts, Controversies, Applications. (3rd ed.). (p. 446). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.

Valluri, H., Nahata, S., Jangalwa, A., & Sethi, G. R. (2010). Organizational Structure of The Coca-Cola Company. Scribd. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://www.scribd.com/doc/37483762/Organizational-Structure-of-The-Coca-Cola-Company#outer_page_15)

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