Emerging Nature and New Organizational Structures and Design

Sections of this topic

    Emerging Nature
    and New Organizational Structures and Design

    Much of the content
    of this topic came from this book:
    Consulting and Organization Development - Book Cover

    © Copyright Carter
    McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC

    Sections of This Article Include

    Characteristics of the New Nature of Organizations
    New Organizational Structures and Design

    Characteristics of the New Nature of Organizations

    New forms of organizations are geared to make organizations more
    receptive, adaptive and generative — always focused on meeting
    the needs of stakeholders. New forms of organizations often exhibit
    the following characteristics:

    1. Strong employee involvement
    – input to the system starts from those closest
    to the outcome preferred by the system, from those most in-the-know
    about whether the organization is achieving its preferred outcomes
    with its stakeholders or not. This way, the organization stays
    highly attuned and adaptive to the needs of stakeholders.

    2. Organic in nature
    – less rules and regulations, sometimes no clear boundaries and
    always-changing forms

    3. Authority based on capability
    – ensures the organization remains a means to an end and not an
    end in itself

    4. Alliances -takes advantage of economies of scale, e.g., collaborations,
    networks, strategic alliances/mergers, etc.

    5. Teams -shares
    activities to take advantage of economies of scale at the lowest
    levels of activities and ensures full involvement of employees
    at the lowest levels

    6. Flatter, decentralized organizations
    – less middle management, resulting in top management exchanging
    more feedback with those providing products and services; also
    results in less overhead costs

    7. Mindfulness of environments,
    changes, patterns and themes
    – priority on reflection
    and inquiry to learn from experience; develop “learning organizations”

    Organizational Structures and Design

    Network Structure

    This modern structure
    includes the linking of numerous, separate organizations to optimize
    their interaction in order to accomplish a common, overall goal.
    An example is a joint venture to build a complex, technical systems
    such as the space shuttle. Another example is a network of construction
    companies to build a large structure.

    Virtual Organization

    This emerging form is
    based on organization members interacting with each other completely,
    or almost completely, via telecommunications. Members may never
    actually meet each other. See
    Virtual Teams

    Self-Managed Teams

    These teams usually include from 5-15 people and are geared to
    produce a product or service. Members provide a range of the skills
    needed to produce the product. The team is granted sufficient
    authority and access to resources to produce their product in
    a timely fashion. The hallmark of a self-managed team is that
    members indeed manage their own group, i.e., they manage access
    to resources, scheduling, supervision, etc. Team members develop
    their own process for identifying and rotating members in managerial
    roles. Often, authority at any given time rests with whomever
    has the most expertise about the current activity or task in the
    overall project. Often members are trained in various problem-solving
    techniques and team-building techniques. These teams work best
    in environments where the technologies to deliver the product
    or service are highly complex and the marketplace and organization
    environments are continually changing. Self-managed teams pose
    a unique challenge for the traditional manager. It can be extremely
    difficult for him or her to support empowerment of the self-managed
    team, taking the risk of letting go of his or her own control.

    Learning Organizations

    In an environment where environments are continually changing,
    it’s critical that organizations detect and quickly correct its
    own errors. This requires continuous feedback to, and within,
    the organization. Continual feedback allows the organization to
    `unlearn’ old beliefs and remain open to new feedback, uncolored
    by long-held beliefs.

    In a learning organization, managers
    don’t direct as much as they facilitate the workers’ applying
    new information and learning from that experience. Managers ensure
    time to exchange feedback, to inquire and reflect about the feedback,
    and then to gain consensus on direction. Peter Senge, noted systems
    theorist, points out in his book, The Fifth Discipline
    (Doubleday, 1990, p. 14), that the learning organization is “continually
    expanding its capacity to create its future … for a learning
    organization, `adaptive learning’ must be joined by `generative
    learning,’ learning that enhances our capacity to create.”

    Self-Organizing Systems

    Self-organizing systems have the ability to continually change
    their structure and internal processes to conform to feedback
    with the environment. Some writers use the analogy of biological
    systems as self-organizing systems. Their ultimate purpose is
    to stay alive and duplicate. They exist in increasing complexity
    and adapt their structures and forms to accommodate this complexity.
    Ultimately, they change structure dramatically to adjust to the
    outer environment. (Some assert that self-managed groups are self-organizing
    systems, although others assert that self-managed groups are not
    because an ultimate purpose is assigned to team members).

    A self-organizing system requires a strong current goal or purpose. It requires
    continual feedback with its surrounding environment. It requires continual reference
    to a common set of values and dialoguing around these values. It requires continued
    and shared reflection around the system’s current processes. The manager of
    this type of organization requires high value on communication and a great deal
    of patience — and the ability to focus on outcomes rather than outputs. Focus
    is more on learning than on method.

    This Article is in a Series About Understanding Organizational Structures and Design

    This article is the eighth in the series which includes:

    1. What is an Organization?
    2. What
    Makes Each Organization Unique
    3. How They’re the Same: They’re Systems

    4. Basic Overview of Life Cycles in
    5. Basic Overview of Organizational

    6. Legal Forms and Traditional
    Structures of Organizations
    7. Driving Forces and a New Organizational
    8. Emerging Nature and New
    Organizational Structures and Design
    9. Basic Guidelines for Organizational
    10. Wrap
    Up: Grasping the Big Picture in Organizations (video)

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to New Forms of Organizations

    In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which
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    Consulting and Organizational Development Blog

    Leadership Blog

    Nonprofit Capacity Building Blog

    Also consider
    Organizational Structures and Design
    Materials Apply to Nonprofits and For-Profits

    For the Category of Organizational Development:

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