An organizational structure that works for change
Many, if not most people, would argue that the ability for an organization to change over time is critical to that organization’s long-term survival. To this end, the literature is full of theories, methodologies, recommendations and analysis on how an organization should be structured in order to maximize the likelihood of obtaining successful change.
It is explained that organizations need to be structured to provide employee empowerment, lean operating techniques, and continuous improvement philosophies as just a small sampling of examples. Yet, we still hear about organizations failing to obtain desired change even though they possessed exemplary efforts to support such structural recommendations.
The reality is that if we want to see advancement in this arena, a major paradigm shift needs to occur regarding the dynamics of change and organizational structure and the best place to begin this shift is by leveraging off of concepts found in Change Science.
Step One – Develop and Communicate a Proper Perspective of Change in the Organization
One of the first things Change Science tells us is that change is constantly and continuously occurring around us on a universal basis. Therefore, it is important for everyone in the organization from the board of directors down to individuals in frontline administrative and production positions to recognize this fact.
Every time a new customer order is received, an engineering drawing is created, a product is produced, an invoice is generated, and the list goes on, a change has occurred within the organization. Therefore, an organization is continuously inundated with change and assuming that the organization has managed to survive, this change (both expected and unexpected) on a whole has been successful change.
So, step one is for everyone to stop thinking of change as strictly specific efforts and/or events and recognize that the organization is already successfully dealing with a continuous stream of change at every level in the organization.
Step Two – Develop an Organization Wide Understanding of Responsibility
So how does an organization manage all this continuously occurring change? The answer is simple – delegation of responsibility. From the person who pushes the button to start the production machine, to the person who enters the customer order and to the manager that resolves a conflict, responsibility for the control of these various changes has been delegated.
It is important to recognize that the concept of employee empowerment automatically exists as soon as that individual is given responsibility for managing and controlling the change that has been assigned to them. What is most often lacking is a top to bottom organizational recognition of the fact that not only is there a significant amount of change continuously occurring in the organization, but through the assignment of responsibility, all the employees in the organization are already masters at managing and executing all of that change.
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