I think most leaders simply do not understand the importance of organization design or the fundamentals that can improve organizational performance. The shadow of Jay Galbraith loomed over the meeting. Jay passed away earlier this year. Many references were made to his Star Model. Many academic and practitioner leaders in organization design were there. Here are some highlights from the morning session. (Any errors in attributions or interpretations are mine.)
Andrew Campbell, Ashridge Business School:
- Question: How can you build informal organization into the design of the organization? I thought of Weisbord’s six-box model and the need to analyze the gap between the formal structure and the informal. Smaller the gap, higher the probability for effectiveness.
- Strategy and design are closely related. Formal strategy vs. enacted strategy.
- “You can tell more about strategy from an organization chart than a strategic plan.” My thought: How do our strategy textbooks treat org design.
Stephanie Eller, Senior Director, Organizational Development, Nike:
- Culture shapes design. Must work to build common language. Sometimes it includes terms unique to company.
- Nike highly matrixed design. Nearly everyone has two managers. My thought: I was surprised that Nike could be so responsive being heavily matrixed. Usually matrix organizations require far more meetings and have unproductive conflict. Key for Nike may be relational networks, knowing who can do what, how, when. Very insightful presentation.
Adam Kleinbaum, Dartmouth College:
- Social networks critical to change outcomes.
- Network responsiveness is important. How fast does network structure align to formal structure. If slow network responsiveness, coordination is key. If fast network responsiveness, adaptability is key.
- Problem: if network fails to adapt to new structure.
- Organizational change is never top down. Key is responsiveness at bottom.
- Slow is not always bad. Silos are not necessarily bad.
- In reorganization, some relational ties are dropped and some are not. Result can be an effective broad, diverse network. Very interesting. In reorganizations some people drop many of their work relationships and form new ties. Others keep more of their old work relationships and build stronger personal networks.
My favorite comment from the morning session was from George Huber, University of Texas at Austin: “Good enough is not good enough.”
Image ©John Ballard, 2014.