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  • Solving The Rubik’s Cube Of Organizational Structure

    As executives struggle with a globalized economy, they are likely to make their organizational structures even more complex. It’s like trying to solve a constantly moving Rubik’s Cube.

    Upstart: Management

    A recent post by HBR blogger Gill Corkindale illustrates how dysfunctional or outdated organizational designs can make it difficult for managers to operate effectively. Judging by the spirited responses, her examples resonated with many readers.

    As today’s executives struggle with the fallout of a globalized economy, they are likely to make their organizational structures even more complex. It’s like trying to solve a constantly moving Rubik’s Cube. The colors will never line up, no matter how many times you spin it. What results are multi-dimensional matrix structures where decision-making is torturous and unclear; siloed functions that underleverage people’s efforts; or serial reorganizations that create constant uncertainty.

    Despite this whitewater environment, there are still steps that managers can take towards simplifying their own structure — which may influence senior executives to adjust the broader design. Here are a few approaches that you can try:

    Work with the current structure: Managers love to reorganize when results are not what they need to be. After all, it’s a convenient way to create the appearance of taking decisive action to reduce costs, refocus priorities, etc. But often this just creates more complexity. Most organizations can be made to work if leaders set the right goals, hold people accountable, streamline end-to-end processes, and put in place appropriate disciplines. In the absence of these (and other leadership actions) any structure can appear to be dysfunctional. A few years ago, the consumer division of a packaged goods company went through five different redesigns in an eighteen-month period, with little change in performance. Only after a stronger consumer business leader was put in place did results get better — without any further reorganization.

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    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

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