Sometimes restructuring is done with the intention of solving a collaboration problem. ´A people´ don’t talk to ´B people´; if we create a C home for A and B people together, they will talk. However, the new C people look mysteriously as uncollaborative as before.
At the core of this flawed thinking is the idea that structural solutions solve behavioural problems. They hardly do. Structural solutions, such as a reorganization, can indeed be a good enabler of behaviours, even a temporary trigger. But these behaviours have a life of their own, their own mechanisms of reinforcement and sustainability. They need do be addressed on their own merits.
Another way to look at this is to say that the traditional, conventional wisdom sequence of ‘structure creates process and systems, and then behaviours will come as a consequence’, is the problem. The real, forgotten sequence is ‘behaviours sustain (or not) whatever process and systems come from new structures’. Translation: behaviours must (should) be in the system first, not as an afterthought, a by-product.
Translation 2: install behaviours first.
It is simply another version of the old ‘we will tackle A, B and C first, then, when done, we will deal with culture’. This way of thinking (culture as the soft by-product) has been very harmful to management.
So, for example, restructuring for collaboration, when not much collaboration exists, is bound to create lots of anxiety and not much new collaboration.
In behavioural terms, if you see a sequence in which behaviours are last, it is likely to have the wrong thinking behind it. If you start with ‘what kind of behaviours do I need to?’, you are likely to be on the right track.
If you want to hear more about how we can address your organizational challenges, please contact my team at [email protected]. We have capabilities in organizational/cultural/behavioural change, leadership, organizational design and more.