Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Best practices for building a better table of organization – 1: building and organizing from a basic conceptual framework

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 8, 2011

Sometimes the most important, and I add most difficult to answer questions are the ones that at first glance might appear simple and even simplistic. Technically specific questions that come, in effect, with their own built-in detailed conceptual frameworks can be easy by comparison. I was recently asked one of those deceptively simple, but difficult to effectively answer questions and I wanted to add it here in this blog as a posting and even as a short series. The question, quite simply, was:

• How do I build a table of organization?

The first thing that ran through my mind when I heard that was the phrase “that depends.” And my goal in this posting is to at least begin a discussion of what that depends on, in developing a table of organization that would make sense for a business or organization, and for its stage and state of development.

I would start this posting by proposing a general framework of ideas that I will argue would apply to any organization that seeks to build, or to realign and correct a table of organization.

• An effective table of organization holds a place in it for every job description-sized block of functionality or service that an individual employee would hold there.
• The positions listed would connect together into networked patterns that correspond to the hierarchies of who reports to whom, and who holds supervisory and management authority and responsibility over whom.
• This table of organization would be fleshed out and maintained with a goal of effectively covering personnel requirements for all high priority capabilities, as needed for maintaining the organization and reaching its strategically planned goals.
• This table of organization would at least ideally be developed along lean organizational principles with a minimum of extra positions listed and filled, that do not support the organization’s core needs. There, the primary determining criteria of effectiveness and need should be in how this position would help the organization reach and maintain market share and overall business effectiveness. And cutting ahead of myself for the moment to make note of an area of discussion I will return to, there are a lot of details and issues hidden in this bullet point that need to be more explicitly noted and analyzed.
• And effective tables of organization cannot be static, invariant structures. Sometimes new positions need to be filled. Sometimes older positions are no longer needed, and that lowering in priority and need can develop for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it makes more sense to retain a position but to realign where it is maintained on the table of organization. That usually indicates a rethinking of the overall role of a position in the organization and how it strategically addresses organizational and/or marketplace needs. There is a lot to this bullet point too, that will require focused clarification.

I have started this by considering the table of organization per se. I am going to turn in my next series installment to consider the organization that a table of organization would be mapped to and that it should effectively and supportively align with.

You can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 2 and the first 200 postings in this general directory at Business Strategy and Operations. You can also find this series at HR and Personnel.

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