Rethinking organizational design [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 10-22-15

I’m not sure there is a topic where the ratio of organizational impact to effort and thought put into it can be higher. People throw together organizational designs based on a whim, with often very little thought as to the consequences. Yet it affects decision making, process, and so on.

organizingIn this installment of my IndustryWeek Lessons from the Road column, I address this topic in Organizing for Success. Here is an excerpt:

2. System first or people first? As a soccer coach, I always look for where lessons cross over. There is often a debate whether a coach starts with his formation and tactics, and makes the players fit his system, or whether they should build a system that best suits the players they have. The same is true in business, and it’s just not a topic for the pundits. It is a decision that should be made before you go too far. There is no single right answer. In general, however, I believe that larger organizations should primarily design the system and smaller organizations design the system around the people. Why?

In a larger organization, you have much more turnover. If you design your organization around the people, the people are going to change and your system will no longer be optimal. In a smaller organization, you often already have people wearing multiple hats. You may have some specialized skills that you want to get the most out of, because those skills become part of your company strategy. You can also more easily spot any problem areas and make adjustments as needed.

I encourage you to add your comments after reading the entire article here.