Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Best practices for building a better table of organization – 2: building in terms of the specific organization

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 14, 2011

This is my second installment in a series on building a better table of organization. In Part 1: building and organizing from a basic conceptual framework I laid out a basic, standard model as to how tables of organization are generally built, with some of the standard underlying reasoning as to why this is done that way. My goal here is to turn to the organization and its functional and organizational needs to consider some of the same issues.

If a table of organization is to work there should be close alignment between how it is built and elaborated as to detailed structure, and what is needed according to the business’ functionality. So what I write of here should, at least in principle, mesh closely with what I wrote in Part 1.

• The primary functional goal of any business or organization should be to develop and provide a unique value proposition for its particular target marketplace that it can develop from in gaining and securing market strength.

This point, as previously discussed, holds as a valid general principle for nonprofits as much as it does for the for-profit marketplace and its businesses. In that, nonprofits offer their missions and visions, and their efforts to meet them as their products and services and they compete in an open marketplace for a significant share of the collective pool of discretionary income that donors would part with in support of charitable goals.

• Effective organizations pursue lean organizational approaches and build to include the functional and support capabilities needed to meet their core strategic goals and priorities.
• An effective table of organization would reflect that with positions included that collectively meet all necessary functional and support needs. Here, “necessary” means core capabilities required to fulfill high priority strategic goals. And that means directly supporting capability for consistently, reliably providing that unique value proposition.

And with this, I posit a table of organization that is organized in terms of functions performed, and only secondarily in terms of level on the table as is found in the Part 1 standard model. I have been posting to a second series on compensation best practices and with that point, these two series line up in parallel to each other (see HR and Personnel, postings 63, 64 and 66 for parts 1-3, and see particularly Part 3: structuring compensation to address critical needs positions hiring requirements.)

Organizations need structure to consistently, effectively perform with all of the necessary tasks completed and in an organized, coherent way. This means at least some structure and accountability, with managers and supervisors who can look beyond any one set of tasks at hand and the steps for completing them, to the larger picture of how everything fits together. So tables of organization need to include supervisory oversight patterns and the details of how the organization is kept organized. But problems can develop when all real emphasis is placed on position and level in this type of system, and not enough on the functions performed, and on their centrality to core mission. The first of these approaches is in fact the perspective and priority of vision usually taken, and for compensation levels determination as discussed in the other series, and for the table of organization structure itself as discussed here.

I am going to turn in my next installment in this series to consider an approach that many organizations try as a way around the problems that I have touched upon here, and I add in my compensation series too: flat tables of organization, and reducing the impact of level-on-the-table priority versus functionality-need by simplifying the table of organization and its layering complexity.

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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