Typically, the concept of organizational structure refers to organization-wide change as opposed to smaller changes such as adding a new person, modifying a program, etc. Examples of organization-wide change might include restructuring operations (e.g., restructuring to self-managed teams, layoffs, etc.), mergers, major collaborations, and "rightsizing." Often, this term designates a fundamental and radical reorientation in the way the organization is structured in order to support a change in direction or strategy.
Change comes hard to a company's culture. Certain patterns, rituals, and artifacts can become deeply rooted in the everyday life of the corporation. When change is necessary, the leaders often find a hard struggle ahead because employees fight back in covert and even openly devious ways, thus slowing the progress. A culture resistant to change is one of the major stumbling blocks in implementing a new strategic initiative or structure. Entrenched behaviors undermine any new structure from the beginning, robbing it of vital momentum and ensuring that implementation will fail. What is the change going on in your organization really?It is nothing more than a series of events like downsizing, restructuring, and implementing new technology. What you or your management team may not be aware of, however, is that these events trigger a parallel, three-phase, psychological process within your people called transition. Your people don't really resist change – they resist transition.
Anticipating a current change facing your organization, you will analyze where the key players are in their own transition process, (e.g. senior management, front-line staff, specific functional departments) identify concrete, actionable strategies for moving them rapidly through to the final phase, the “New Beginning.” Finally, you will have the chance to develop an action plan to minimize the resistance, the disorientation and accompanying lost productivity as the company transitions to the new way of operating. More and more organizations are reviewing their business processes and evaluating the need for changes to improve efficiency and quality. It is increasingly apparent that improved business processes necessitate improved information flows supported by marketing strategies.
Changing Organizational Structure
1) Assess: Through on-line diagnostic tools and in-person interviews within each organizational area, we help our clients determine their organizational readiness to achieve their business goals and identify any barriers to success. We develop measurable criteria for success for the whole planning effort and then have these criteria drive the planning design. We use them to measure the effort's performance and exhibit how performance measures can be used.
2) Collaborate: We establish a collaborative partnership with leaders, sponsors, participants and implementers so everyone will feel ownership of the new structure alignment process. Be sure to include key stakeholders in planning, implementation, and facilitation whenever possible. Get specific commitments from leadership, in advance of the effort, to actively follow through on decisions and initiatives that are generated through the process. We contract with sponsors and decision-makers to check-in at specific times throughout the effort and discuss refinements to the process.
3) Design: In full partnership with our client, we design the overall structure alignment process using a variety of methods (conversations, tools, activities, technologies) to engage the head, heart, and gut. We will create a tension between a desired future and the current state or situation. Strike a balance between starting with a blank sheet of paper and simply editing the old structure. Assist the organization in identifying the core to be preserved and the progress to be stimulated.
4) Deliver: Using combinations of consulting, coaching, and training we conduct programs to develop inspired organizational structures that are capable of achieving or exceeding their desired business outcomes. We focus on shared goals for the future rather than problem-solving status quo issues. We conduct the change process with an approach that represents the kind of end-state you have in mind.
5) Cascade: Establish a communication process that ensures the alignment effort is public, explicit, focused and complete. Expand participation in the overall process to ensure that all points of view are represented in order to build commitment towards the desired future. Provide enough opportunities for all stakeholders to have input. Ensure that organization-wide strategic goals are carried out at all levels of the organization.
6) Reinforce: Keep information about the process, especially outcomes and agreements, flowing throughout the organization. Familiarity with "what's going on" will build commitment and comfort with the changes. Provide timely, accurate and thorough information on the status of the effort and agreements through multiple modes. We facilitate cross-organizational learning events and project reviews, and—as needed—conduct additional training and coaching to ensure that business goals are achieved.
7) Re-assess: Be faithful to your desired outcomes for the effort, not to your design of the planning process. Be flexible and willing to make changes as circumstances warrant. Using the results of the initial assessment as a baseline, we conduct a second organizational assessment, noting areas of improvement and areas that need additional attention.
8) Sustainability: Create an environment of openness, trust, and honesty, in which difficult issues can be freely and positively addressed. This level of communication will keep the change initiative alive so the organization can continue to receive what’s necessary in order to fine-tune the structure. It's all about the quality of the conversations – they are what allows an organization to keep growing.
9) Exit: We complete the engagement by celebrating accomplishments and designing an exit plan. Depending on client needs we may begin a second cycle. During the second cycle we will train consultants and/or trainers in the client system to lead further organizational transformation work as we de-escalate our involvement.
"In full partnership with our client, we design the overall structure alignment process using a variety of methods (conversations, tools, activities, technologies) to engage the head, heart, and gut to unleash the full potential of a team."