A Planned Change

An organization can be changed by altering its structure, its technology, its people, or some combination of these features.

It is the management function that defines and sets goals for future and then establishes the tasks and resources required to achieve the goals.

Planning is the most basic of all management functions. With the exception of a few routine activities, every organizational and managerial activity requires planning. Every manager must have the ability to forecast for the next day and must plan to bring out new products, promote new products, distribute and price the products, hire people to produce the products and acquire the necessary finances.

Planning is largely a mental process and begins when an individual engages in thinking about a problem. Planning can be defined as selecting information and making assumptions regarding the future to formulate activities necessary to achieve organizational objectives. Thus, the challenge of planning is to deal with the future and its uncertainties.

Plans can be classified in a number of ways. Some types of plans based on the frequency of use are given below.

Standing Plans: These are plans that serve as guidelines to managerial action. Once a decision is made, it stands without the necessity of deliberation each time a similar situation arises. For example: A bank uses one standing plan that decides in advance whether to approve any request for a loan or not.

Single use Plans: Single use plans are designed for a specific purpose and period. The plan ceases to exist when the goals are achieved. A typical example of a single use plan is the budget.

Long range Plans: Long range plans are the strategic plans of the organization. Under such a plan, assumptions must be made about uncontrollable factors (such as technological changes) and controllable factors (such as products of the organization). For example the long range plan of an organization might be to become a market leader in the industry.

Intermediate Plans: Once long range plans are formulated, intermediate plans are formulated. If for instance the long range plan is to be the market leader the intermediate plan would be to set up sales offices in different regions.

Short range Plans: These plans provide the guidelines for day-to-day actions in the organization. In realizing its long range goal of becoming a leader in its industry, an organization will have to recruit and train personnel as a short range plan.

Besides classifying plans based on time element, plans can also be classified based on their specific use. Let us briefly study the different types of plans.

Changing an organization’s structure involves rearranging its internal systems, such as the lines of communication, work flow, or management hierarchy. If you recall the aspects of structure discussed, you will recognize that these are the changes that can be made:

Organizational Design: Classical organizational designs focus on carefully defining job responsibilities and on creating appropriate division of labor and lines of performance. As we have noted frequently one of the most significant structural trend is towards the flat, organization, in which middle layers of management are eliminated to streamline the interaction of top managers with non-management employees, who are given more responsibilities. Wal-Mart, recently named the United States’ leading retailer and has a flat structure.

Decentralization: One approach to decentralization involves creating smaller self-contained organizational units that are meant to increase the motivation and performance of unit members and to focus their attention on high priority activities. Decentralization also encourages each unit to adapt its structure and technology to its particular tasks and to its environment.

Modification of the work flow and careful grouping of specialties may also lead to an improvement in productivity and morale. On a smaller scale, a small company lets many employees spend $100 on a process innovation without going through a slow and potentially painful and humiliating process of getting authorization.

Approaches to technological change:

Changing an organization’s technology involves altering its equipment engineering processes, research techniques, or production methods.

Production technology often has a major effect on organizational structure. For that reason, techno-structural or socio-technical approaches attempt to improve performance by simultaneously changing aspects of an organization’s structure and its technology. Job enlargement and job enrichment are examples of techno-structural approaches to change.

Approaches to changing people:

Both the technical and the structural approaches try to improve organizational performance by changing the work situation. The people approaches, on the other hand, try to change employee behavior by focusing on their skills, attitudes, perceptions and expectations.

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