Everything in and around an enterprise has evolved. Rapid fire change underpins the current business environment. We used to prefix sustainable to competitive advantage now we prefix ephemeral to it.
However the classic organization structure has pretty much remained grounded in history. There are functions. There are hierarchies. There are silos. These silos run deep and wide within the enterprise. They give rise to bureaucratic, rigid behavior. Rigid behavior cements into stiff beliefs, which finally result in an inflexible, frigid organization culture.
The classic organization structure and consequent rigid organization culture creeks and squeaks when subjected to the strong and unrelenting forces of change around it.
This is the problem. The organizations of today have a fundamental design flaw and cannot cope with today’s business environment. A re-think is required.
The issue is that organization structures today are like whales whereas the archetype required to face off with the challenges of today is a shoal of fish – integrated in purpose however structurally designed to change course swiftly and accurately. I suggest we reinvent the hierarchical structure which did well for enterprises of the past and change it to a honeycomb structure for the organizations of the future. Each cell in this organizational honeycomb is autonomous and performs a specific service with a specific outcome.
There is no cell for monitoring and control. As in the cells which make up organic life, no cell overseas the work of the other one. Each cell is self-motivated, self-directed, has a mission aligned with the larger purpose of the enterprise and just goes about doing it’s work without incurring a large overhead of reporting into a larger than life ‘supervisory’ cell.
There is no cell called the HR cell. Acquisition, retention and motivation of staff are embedded as processes within each cell. After all how can a cell perform its service if it doesn’t have the right human resources to perform that service? So the HR process and its responsibilities are not relegated to another cell, each cell manages its human resources within and creates an intimate bond within the cell.
There is a leadership cell. It is responsible for setting direction and designing strategies to propel the entire honeycomb towards that direction. There is a production cell, responsible for producing stuff. There is a policies cell responsible for managing policies and dealing with regulatory issues. Like so. Each of the cells is autonomous, an independent value creating unit and there is no hierarchy in the honeycomb structure. It’s a network of high performing, independent cells glued together with a visionary purpose. Designed from ground up for change.
Thinking about outsourcing a particular function, take a cell out and replace it with that of your partner. No need to disrupt the entire organizational hierarchy. Thinking about vertical integration, link in another cell to the honeycomb. Thinking of focusing on the core, take a few cells off the honeycomb and sell them off. Economy gone south and you need to cut costs. Look at those cells which have the farthest line of sight from your customer and home in on those for cost reduction. Globalization is becoming the fad of the day and your shareholders getting carried away by its promise, go on, link in a few cells from across boundaries to the honeycomb.
A structure of this sort will also have diversity embedded in its very nature. Each cell will have its own mini-culture so the organization will have at its disposal a kaleidoscope of cultures which it can leverage to surmount the many challenges thrown at it from the external environment. It will also help organizations to crack the dichotomous goals of growing big but still remaining entrepreneurial.
I'm not convinced that hierarchies are anywhere near as bad as you present them. Nevertheless, I do like the idea of cells or what is basically a network structure.
Why do you think organisations don't need any cells for monitoring and control when they need one for strategy? Won't a completely cell based organisation be very inefficient compared to one with functions etc.
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You have an interesting idea.
Maybe I can recommend you a three-stair management.
Three-stair management is a new model (or a new system) based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
The model is the same as ordinary stairs. The first step is called the management of regulations with special implication (discussed more fully in the part of solution). I use it to establish a high productive organization that can meet employees’ existence needs.
The second step is called the management of emotion with special implication. I use it to meet employees’ relatedness needs.
The third step is called the management of innovation with special implication. I use it to meet employees’ growth needs.
Then integrating first, second, and third create a new model of three-stair management. I use it to meet all employees’ needs (or Maslow's hierarchy of needs).
So three-stair management can be briefly summarized three points: First, I use the management of regulations to establish a company. Then I use the management of emotion to let employees love this company. And then I use the management of innovation to continue to improve this company.
Please note! A new model means at least two aspects of meaning (they are the key of this hack). On the one hand, every one of these three types of management is Indispensable. On the other hand, these three types of management must be complied fixed order, that is, bottom-up.
A new model,
A simple model,
An orderly model,
A dynamic model,
An open model,
It is also a very useful model for various organizations!
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