Organization design & organization design in 1A4 sheets

Organizational design behavior, attitude, and performance. We also refer to the organizational structure as the context, the organizational design or the conditions under which the employees function. It is about more than organizational structure. Strategy, systems, management, interaction patterns and organizational culture are also crucial context factors. Factors that are of great importance for commitment, motivation and level of performance.

Recent Gallup research shows that organizations often score low on ‘engagement’. The vast majority of employees experience little or no involvement. They try everything: core values, cultural change, the learning organization, communication improvement, mission and vision. Marketing 3.0, training and education, agile & scrum and much more. You usually do not go much further than treating the symptoms.

What’s going wrong? How can it get better?

Loei important to ‘decor’ or the ‘design’!

Terms such as ‘furnishing’ or ‘design’ suggest a conscious and rational approach to this issue. This often does not happen because confusion and misunderstandings usually turn out to be great. We’re just messing around. Take the following examples:

  1. Collaboration is encouraged, but individual assessments and individual goals set the tone
  2. Management places decision-making lower in the organization, but direction and framework are vague.
  3. A board member: ‘Self-governing teams are perfect, we’re going to roll them out quickly in our organization.’
  4. ‘Customer focus is our core value !!!’ But if there are complaints about customers at the coffee machine, the bosses sign up; moreover, the complaints about the call center are ignored by the top.

Sometimes people hardly understand what is going wrong here. Even to understand how involvement is undermined in this way. Did you notice it right away? Very good. A little later in this text I will mention what is going wrong here. Often the answer is: “It was a pity. Those things are happening. We have to move on.” And it’s left behind.

Many ManagementSite writers think differently about this and come up with interesting experiences and suggestions. Recently published:

Handles for organizational design

What do I find to hold on to? Initially, the recognition that context factors must reinforce each other. I find this most explicit in Lenette Schuijt in New Organization and Organizational Design. Schuijt uses the so-called ‘complementarity theory’. †Complementarities refer to potentially amplifying effects between different factors when treated simultaneously and in context. “

I think this realization is a good start for organizational design. Characteristic of the 4 examples mentioned is that the context factors have a conflicting effect. That way, the design seems demotivating. How so? For the answer to this question, I build on the balance management-self-organization, which I describe in Competitiveness and innovative organization

Better management and more self-organization

A good profiling of both management and self-organization bundles energy and focuses the employees on the customer and the results. Their commitment acts as a driving force for continuous improvement.

Known dimensions of organization such as strategy, structure, culture and systems are just as many ways to achieve this. Provided that we also assess the interventions on their effects on humans and the relationships between humans. If all goes well, they reinforce each other in the effects on attitude and behavior in such a way that involvement and accountability are stimulated.

The following diagram shows some of this. Note the relationship between the different interventions and organizational principles.

Central facilities, safety net in case of adversity.
Efficiency for large projects and innovations
Independent profit manager
units with own products / customers
‘We-feeling’, common symbols Team spirit, (internal) customer focus
Exchange, compare, learn Results feed back to devices
Clear business goals Clear departmental goals

Plan organizational vision (1) Source: Competitiveness and innovative organization

It is always a question of how people are connected to each other. Leads it to binding or dissolution, for involvement or for indifference, to strengthen one’s own responsibility or to ‘let it blow’? You also see how the balance of self-organization is strengthened en ‘more together’ en ‘more personal responsibility’? Both the band and the individual space are profiled more strongly. And the interdependence and autonomy, and the central and decentralized.

Is there such a thing? That’s not logical, is it? Logically or not, it can and it happens.

In this way, interaction patterns arise that constructive dynamics achieve. I call the governance that this requires from the Line of Responsibility Management. There are many good examples

joint ownership?

Yes, but if this can work so well, then it should be common now, right? Do all kinds of obstacles sometimes arise?
They certainly are. The top of many organizations even boards and supervisors show little interest. They are busy with other things. There are also barriers within organizations: indifference, pressure, pressure, laziness, reluctance, resistance, no time, poor management, backlogs, customer complaints.

Things are stuck in a certain pattern. See: ‘Do interaction patterns regulate our organizations?’. It is not for nothing that I use the term ‘patterns’. Sometimes humans are even trapped in a destructive pattern of interaction. For example, an arrangement based on systemic coercion and regulation quickly leads to the pattern of DOOMLOOP. Many public organizations suffer from this. Health care, police, education they all have to do with it .. They can no longer get staff; many people move up. But one remains trapped in DOOMLOOP. Their staff shortage is not a shortage, but a surplus of imposed rules, bureaucracy and systemic constraints.

Stagnation means decline

Time does not stand still. Many organizations have already switched to a network structure of relatively autonomous entities, the network organization. The control does not seem to be more complicated at all, but rather much simpler and also much more efficient. There are also many good examples. Even ‘the next level’ is already on the way.


“With one design principle that touches the essence, you achieve more than with a mountain of rules and regulations”

Use as a guideline for a better organizational design ‘complementarity’ on ‘balance management-self-organization’. That design principle has helped me many times, simply and precisely. A principle works better than a to-do list with guidelines. Moreover, this principle is quickly understood. One recognizes the intention. All the more so because a destructive pattern is noticed in all relationships and in many incidents.
Success or failure can then be better understood and handled with knowledge of interaction patterns. Work towards a virtual interaction pattern with the design. A pattern with a strong dynamic of increasing engagement and performing better. The examples in Innovative organization and responsible management provide guidance.

Author: Willem Mastenbroek, Editor-in-Chief of ManagementSite

Two notes:

Contents of the Organization Design Knowledge Base page.

  1. How to make a solid organizational design?
    1. Trends Organizational Design
  2. Organizational design as a network
    1. The online media, organizational design and the platform organization
    2. Platform organizations
    3. Startups and Organizational Design
  3. Organizational design and design
  4. Strengthen self-organization and leadership with organizational design
  5. Disruptive forms of organization

2. The following A4 sheets have been previously published on knowledge base topics.

I continue with the A4s. I always summarize what I think is the essence. I follow the idea behind ManagementSite: critical, innovative and practically applicable. Next topic is ‘Mission & Vision’.

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