One of the fundamental principles of Organizational Structure & Function is that function follows form. In other words, the way the org chart is configured is the way information and process will flow. This principle pretty much applies to anything that’s put together.
When beginning an interaction with organizational clients, I’ll always first ask for a copy of the org chart. I want to see not only how people and processes interact with each other in the hierarchical environment, but also where the gaps are. The other thing I want to get a feel for is the cultural context of the organization, specifically as it relates to capacity and resources.
I’ve been asked many times how looking at an org chart will give me that kind of feedback. I’ve noted in previous posts, podcasts and video broadcasts, about the two lens through which I view the world. One is the lens of Leadership and the other is Organizational Structure & Function.
One of the easiest flags to spot in an organization that isn’t performing to the expectations of stakeholders (both internal and external, especially in terms of objectives and outcomes) is an org chart with too many layers and too many horizontal or vertical influences. When I see that level of dysfunction, I can consistently attach various indicators that prevent such an organization from accomplishing their objectives. More importantly, I can identify a culture that even sees some objectives as impossible because the org chart has never been configured with consideration given to capacity and resources.
So, what do I mean by Capacity and Resources?
The definition of capacity is very straightforward. It means the maximum amount something or someone can hold or produce. I’m even more focused on people when I look at the model than I am on process because if the right people aren’t in the right place with the right amount of authority and empowerment to do their jobs, the process part won’t really matter.
The definition of resources is also very straightforward. It means having a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.
When this happens and unless it’s addressed, a culture of mediocrity develops over time that prevents three things from existing in the culture that are non-negotiable in order to accomplish really big, innovative and what seem to be impossible objectives. Pay attention to the definition of these three things, because the real meaning of important but oft quoted words too often gets lost in the translation. I’m going to add to that translation now.
The first is belief, which means acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone or some thing. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of acceptance in place.
The second is desire, which means a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Think of how much less effort is required with that kind of emotion in place.
The third is purpose, which means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Think of how much less effort is required to cast a vision with that kind of conviction in place.
Truth be told, without these three cultural components, the Org Chart will be the least of your worries. You’d better start thinking about your life cycle.