Form versus Function: That is the Question!

There are no universal models to organizational design. [...]

There are no universal models to organizational design. Leaderships act on the procedural aspects and influence tacit aspects due to operational and legal business requirements, strategic deadlines, and competitive dynamics. In this context, organizational culture is both cause and consequence.

Anyway, judging by my experience with organizational design, I can share some “golden rules” common to the process:

1 Organizational structure does not have to be the initial priority

The structure follows the logical process of organizational design, not the other way around. The usual rush of managers to distribute people in boxes creates a dangerous temporal vacuum in the absence of other elements that make up the model.

2 Only horizontal and vertical balance optimizes tacit and procedural aspects

The dualities “autonomy versus control” and “span of control versus layers” need to be balanced to assure the implementation of procedural and tacit aspects.

3 Effectiveness does not refer to efficiency; Long term does not refer to short term

Activities measured by effectiveness (marketing) do not refer to efficiency structures (operations). Long-term (R&D) does not refer to short-term (sales).

4 Original minimalist beats any reliable copy of the great masters

References and best practices are useful to expand repertoire, but the design of each company is unique, as it responds to unique ambitions, dynamics, and requirements.

5 Design for the future, manage present transitions, do not fix the past

Change in design should already be positioned from future aspirations and ambitions, with transition risk management and detachment from past models.

They are simple “rules”, but, at the same time, very difficult to implement.

Throughout the organizational evolution, in the vast majority of cases, design is neglected. Attachment to successful models. Fear about questioning the winning legacy. Weakness in disassembling the established power networks.  Apathy before the journey.

Finally, there are several justifications for the reality: as cultures advance, its organizational designs are not properly refined, resulting in inappropriate structures and coordination mechanisms that strengthen procedural and tacit aspects incompatible with new requirements, new aspirations, new dynamics. All of this compromises the ability to solve external problems and ensure internal integration.


Daniel Augusto Motta, PhD, MSc

Founder & CEO BMI Blue Management Institute

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