Most of our organizational problems are behavioural.
Structural answers hardly solve behavioural problems. Amalgamating A and B because A and B don’t talk to each other, or have mixed-up overlapping roles, or blame each other, or pass the monkey between them, backwards and forward, and thinking that the new A+B =C will get rid of these dysfunctionalities, is naïve thinking. A and B may now have a single head, a single home, a single reporting line and a single payroll, and still will blame each other, will pass the monkey and will continue to enjoy a dysfunctional and tribal mix up of responsibilities.
Most of the dysfunctionalities around communications and roles are behavioural. It’s about what people do or don’t do. And this is where the energy has to go.
Also some of those dysfunctionalities between A and B are perpetuated because they are simple survival mechanisms. Pure social anthropology. A and B need some form of rivalry, of tribal relationship and friction, of preservation of identities, and, above all, victimhood. If you took victimhood out of the equation, groups and organizations would fall apart, would not have anybody to blame (OK, that is not true, they will find others) and many political positions will melt in the air.
I’d love to create a global movement #youarenotavictim and a sister one #iamnotyourenemy. But this is a conversation for another day.
My advice is keep A and B in their tents as much as you can and spend your energy defining rules of the game, and a few, key non negotiable behaviours. Then watch. ‘We will always tell the truth to each other’, for example, is not nearly as threatening (and naïve) as ‘I am going to amalgamate you both and then you will speak the truth’.
There is, however, a caveat to this, an important one. It may well be that the mere existence of a separate A and B is a gross institutional disability in itself. Period. In that case, of course it makes sense to look at the structural problem as well. The keyword is ‘as well’. Because the structural (amalgamating) solution will not get rid of accumulated behavioural problems .
In my experience, for any case of true ‘bad design’, there are dozens of pseudo-structural-problems. And for any case of amalgamation-as-a-solution, there are dozens of missing opportunities to look at the behavioural fabric underneath.
Don’t miss it…tomorrow at 17:30 BST, join our webinar on Organizational Design.
Thank you to all of you who have registered for this webinar. We look forward to you joining Leandro and his team as they look at organizational design post-Covid – this is the best time for an upgrade. If you haven’t already done so, book your seat now!
Here is a reminder of what Leandro will be focusing on during this thought-provoking session:
The new Promised Land of the so-called ‘future of work’
We know that the new organization has to be very adaptable and flexible, beyond what it has been in the past, but what are the organizational principles that can lead to that? Is there a singular best model? Or, more importantly, can several possibly competing models coexist in one single organization? And, if so, what kind of management and leadership are to be reinvented?
If you have registered to attend, then in advance, please can you complete this mini questionnaire to help give us an insight into the main organizational design challenges you are facing today. You can also read Leandro’s recent article on this subject: ‘Redesigning the organization. This is the best time for an upgrade‘.
To get a feel for our webinars and what to expect, you can view our previous webinar series – Feed Forward.
We look forward to seeing you on tomorrow!
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