Organizational Structures for Information Services Presentation by Tara Lynn Fulton Educause ‘02 Atlanta, GA October 3, 2002
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Defining organizational structure Greenberg & Baron define organizational structure as “the formal configuration between individuals and groups with respect to the allocation of tasks, responsibility and authority within organizations” (1992, p. 505). Structure determines the distribution of people in positions, which in turn influences role relationships, interactions, and coordination between them (Hall, 1996, p. 48).
How do you know when your organizational structure isn’t working? Communication is breaking down. Dysfunctional power dynamics, conflict, and turf wars get in the way of innovation. Staff are tripping over each other and wondering who does what; workflow and roles are confused. Manager/team leader styles do not match the needs of their units. Important responsibilities are falling between the cracks. Customers don’t know where to go to get assistance. Your organizational chart doesn’t match how work really gets done. Decisions are not getting made or are made poorly. You are unable to innovate quickly enough.
Ways to select a new structure 1.External mandate 2.Director imposes a new structure 3.Director has a vision and the organization fills in the picture 4.Director has a vision and waits for opportunities to move toward it. 5.Director starts by fixing problem areas and sees where this leads. 6.Consultant helps the organization through the process 7.Grassroots effort to rebuild
What you need to consider in selecting an organizational structure The structure should fit your conception of where organizations like yours are headed The structure should be simple enough to explain but complex enough to account for change The structure must be consistent with the history, culture, and values of your organization and institution. Establish clear but flexible lines of responsibility You can organize around functions, products, or client groups, but the structure must work for all three Promote good communication flow in all directions Each person needs to have a family-sized unit that feels like “home”
Some options for structure Traditional bureaucracy Matrix Web Lattice Network
Bureaucracy - Benefits Is a well-understood structure in which people know how to behave Comfortable for union, military, and other organizational climates Excellent choice when you have strong leaders who get things done Often more necessary in larger organizations to keep control Excellent for career path development Most applicable in parts of the organization where standards, uniformity, consistency and rules are paramount Best suited for jobs that involve less creativity and intellectual specialization
Matrix - Benefits Useful in situations where you need to have the same individuals work in functional silos as well as between them or special products or clients Exposes long-term staff to new ideas, processes and technologies while keeping clear, stable structure Convenient if you have autocratic managers whose rigid power base you need to dampen A good way to allow some career ladders within clear managerial lines Allows for more complexity than the hierarchy, but maintains the look and feel of a hierarchy
Web - Benefits Maximizes continuous change Allows for individual units to evolve differently Distributed, decentralized leadership; democratic by philosophy Consistent with idea of learning organizations Good for cross-functional operations that stress interdependence
Lattice - Benefits Allows staff to spontaneously create new task forces or other temporary mini- structures to be responsive and creative. Information flows in all directions, not just up and down Allows for more fluid relationships; bring people together around the issues Higher education as “organized anarchies” Allows units with very different styles to collaborate Excellent for a diverse workforce
Network - Benefits Organization often contracts out work to others, so useful if you want to coop the competition! “Loosely coupled” units interact as needed to accomplish work; pool expertise rather than permanent relationships Maximizes entrepreneurial aspect Excellent for very turbulent environments and users with high level needs Takes advantage of professional expertise and discretion Provides a place and structure for the “lone rangers” and high level specialists
The spectrum of structures Network Lattice Web Matrix Hierarchy Maximize innovation, flexibility, and adaptation Maximize accountability and stability
The spectrum of structures Network Lattice Web Matrix Hierarchy Focus on front-line staff - maximize autonomy Focus on leaders - maximize control
The spectrum of structures Network Lattice Web Matrix Hierarchy Risk of chaos Risk of stagnation
Advice for organizational leaders Choose a structure that is consistent with your style and skills. Organize around principles. Balance idealism and realism. Remember personality as an organizational factor. Pick your management team very carefully.
Advice for organizational leaders Work for maximum involvement in restructuring, but don’t expect 100% buy-in. Even if you plan a one-time restructuring process, count on continuous renewal and modification. Take advantage of the natural alliances that exist between individuals and groups. Expect to have to develop new skills, attitudes, and behaviors in staff as well as in yourself! Don’t push change faster than the institution and organization can handle it. Trust is essential.
Concluding remarks * No one organizational structure is best in all circumstances. * Intuition may guide you as much as rational choice. * Reorganization can and should be a fun, rewarding, and creative process.
References Fulton, T.L. (2001). On the frontier: The leader’s journey of restructuring. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Pennsylvania State University. Greenberg, J. & Baron, R.A. (1992). Behavior in organizations. (5th ed.) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Hall, R.H. (1996). Organizations: Structures, processes and outcomes. (6th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Wheatley, M. (1992). Leadership and the new science. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.