There has been a search for an ideal or perfect structure because of its impact on the business model. The right structure depends on the environment, the vision, the values, the purpose, the goals and priorities, the skill and experience levels, the culture, the team, etc. Each of these is unique, which makes recommending the “right” structure very difficult. However there are a few things that of high performing organisational structures have in common:
Intense customer focus
All systems, structures, processes are aimed at the customer. The customer is central in all its activities, including innovation. The management team managers drive the organisation in constant dialogue with customers and partners.
Every activity of the organisation is team based. The team based approach is at every level, horizontal, vertical and across. This team approach is used to manage regions, branches, processes, and complete business units.
Highly autonomous and decentralized
A wide range of small business units or businesses are created throughout the organisation. Local teams have the freedom to adjust or re-design the companies offering to suit the local market needs. They also have the power to develop new experimental prototypes.
The senior managers provide the shape of the organisation through the strategy, leadership, the parameters (defined by vision, values, and purpose) and serve the managers to execute at the best of their ability. There is a complete focus on what customers actually want and are willing to pay for. The systems and structure are designed to serve the servers and producers, not management and the bureaucracy. Lean and not mean.
Focus on networks, partnerships and alliances
Organisational boundaries blur as teams reach out, in, or across to get the expertise, materials, capital, or other support they need to meet customer needs and develop new markets. Learning how to partner with other teams or organizations is now a critical performance skill.
Fewer and more focused staff professionals
Accountants, human resource professionals, improvement specialists, purchasing managers, engineers and designers, and the like, are either in the midst of operational action as a member of an operational team, or they sell their services to a number of teams. Many teams are also purchasing some of this expertise from outside as needed.
Few management levels
Spans of control stretch hundreds of people (organized in self-managing, self organising teams) to one manager. Effective managers are highly skilled in leading, directing (establishing goals and priorities), and developing (training and coaching).
One customer contact point
Continuity with the customer is maintained by an unchanging small group or individual. Internal service and support systems serve the needs of this person or team. The focus of the organisation is on coordinating and managing the customer relationship.
Bookbuzz tip: Read “Starfish and the spider”, which is book that explains, why, for example, the Spanish were capable of beating the Aztecs in less than a year (by destroying the HQ, i.e. the capital) and why it took 300 years to beat the Apaches (they had independent, decentralised fighting units and no HQ). It explains the success of Napster and why you can’t beat movement (versus a (centralised) organisation). In short: if you have an HQ you are out of date.