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Is your structure aligned with your purposes?

In this book I have shared my knowledge about how to structure a company.

I do it through a number of real client cases that I have been first-hand involved in. These are private businesses and public sector organisations, big and small. I have worked in 23 different countries and I am sharing the challenges and insights from making a successful structure. I have described several typical structural problems by using each client case as a specific example.

Find the book at sandermoenpublishing.com, as paper-book or e-book.

 

Organisational structure is an extremely important subject with crucial impact on people’s life and on businesses performance. Despite of this, the subject is given relatively little attention. Compared with the almost infinite numbers of books and articles written about e.g. business strategy or human behaviour, organisational structure is given very little attention.

There are several reasons for this lack of attention I believe. One is that structure in many cases (and countries) is still seen as “only” a HR subject, rather than an imperative strategic business subject. The importance is therefore not sufficiently understood. Another reason is probably that there are simply very few really good methods and theories that describe organisational structure in detail. The theories are often limited to the question of centralization or decentralization, or on how to “test” if you have a good organisational design.

I have noticed that during the last 20 years there has been several theories that makes up with hierarchical structures. Allegedly there is a prevailing misunderstanding that organisational structures should be hierarchical. I have read about “spaghetti structures”, self-organising companies, absolutely flat organisations etc. This is all in my opinion bogus and driven by false solutions to structural problems that are really not completely understood.

That an organisation doesn’t work well under its prevailing structure does not mean that you do not need a structure! Or that you don’t need a hierarchy.

I believe that the “anti-hierarchy” ideas are based on the attempts to make up with organisational bureaucracy. The intention is good but bureaucracy and hierarchy are two different phenomena’s (even though I realize that a bureaucratic organisation usually is very hierarchical).

If responsibilities are unclear and you have several layers on top of each other in the structure, the organisation will behave bureaucratic, but that isn’t necessarily because of the hierarchy as such.

 

The “non-hierarchies” is in my opinion also hierarchies that just replaced another kind of hierarchy. Whether it is “spaghetti structures” or flat structures, you will still have a hierarchy. And you have to have a hierarchy. You simply need to know who is responsible and accountable, who is reporting to whom, who can say yes and no, who can hire and fire etc. That is what hierarchy is; a clarification of responsibilities.

 

Kjetil Sandermoen,

Zug, Switzerland

 


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