Understanding Organizational Structures and Design: What They Are and How They Work
© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Strongly Suggested Pre-Reading
Organizational Performance Management
Be sure to read the description in Organizational Performance Management to understand that organizational structures are ultimately strategies to help increase the performance of the organization.
To successfully decide the best structures for your organization — or to improve the health of an already established organization — you need some basic understanding of organizational design. You should know what an organization really is, including its parts and how they all work together. Too often, this information is not understood. As a result, leaders and managers add or modify activities within their organizations and without meaning to, they adversely affect the other activities.
You should understand the parts that are the same across all types of organizations — and the parts that are highly unique between them. Otherwise, you might miss out on the vast free resources for assistance to you because you believe your organization and its problems are truly unique.
You should know how to recognize the typical features of a new and start-up organization (in its first life stage) as compared to a well established one (in its mature life stage). Without knowing that information, you can have unrealistic expectations of your start-up organization, resulting in increasing confusion,
frustration and conflicts. You won’t know what is needed to evolve to the next level.
You should be able to recognize the differences in cultures between organizations. Otherwise, you will not understand why other people have such different values and expectations than yours — and that theirs is not wrong.
You also should know about how organizations are changing significantly because of numerous driving forces today. These changes are also causing changes in the nature of the leadership and management within them. Those coming changes are likely to affect you.
This purpose of this series of articles is to convey the core concepts in all of that information to you. You should proceed through the series by going through the articles in the following order.
(Those who naturally prefer to focus on the “business side” in organizations, rather than the “human skills” side, might particularly appreciate this topic on organizational structures.)
Various (and Sometimes Contrary) Perspectives
- Development of Management Thoughts
- The Skeptical and Affirmative Postmodernist (Organization) Theory Debates
- Major Organizational Theories
Go Through This Series in This Order
This article is the first 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 Organizations
5. Basic Overview of Organizational Culture
6. Legal Forms and Traditional Structures of Organizations
7. Driving Forces and a New Organizational Paradigm
8. Emerging Nature and New Organizational Structures and Design
9. Basic Guidelines for Organizational Design
10. Wrap Up: Grasping the Big Picture in Organizations (video)
Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Organizational Theory
In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Organizational Theories. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog.
- Library’s Consulting and Organizational Development Blog
- Library’s Leadership Blog
- Library’s Nonprofit Capacity Building Blog
- Library’s Supervision Blog
For the Category of Organizational Development:
To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.
Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.