Five Points to Consider Regarding Organizational Structure

Are you reorganizing your organization? Are you seeking an organizational tune up? Here are five points to keep in mind:

  1. There is no "ideal" organization structure. Organizations often oscillate over time,first maximizing one thing then another. An organization may centralize its control for a while, then decentralize. It may establish regional offices, then eliminate them. It may use matrix management, then move to a simpler form of reporting. Look for the best structure at this moment in your organization's history, recognizing that every structure optimizes for some factors, and sub-optimizes for others.
  2. The right organization structure is always a combination between what you want in the abstract, and the people you've got. First specify your desired organizational characteristics, design an organization structure to achieve these, then factor in what is possible given the people on hand to do the work. 
  3. Organizations are inherently messy, chaotic entities. After all, they are not machines, but are made up of living beings. Don't expect to get everything running perfectly smoothly.
  4. Each individual in your organization has his or her own priorities that vary from the priorities of the organization as a whole. The trick is to align the two. The greater the overlap between the individuals' priorities and the organizations' priorities, the stronger the organization will be. But don't expect 100% overlap -- it doesn't happen
  5. Maintain a ratio of effort expended on external problem solving well in excess of internal problem solving. In other words -- spend a lot more effort meeting the needs of the people your organization serves vs. engaging in inter-departmental tussles. While keeping your house in order is important, the ultimate ends the organization is there to achieve are paramount, and should remain your first order of business.