Symptoms of mal-organization

Anyone with experience in management knows a healthy organization structure when he sees it (which is seldom enough). But he is like the doctor who knows a healthy person when he sets one but can only define “health” negatively, that is, as the absence of disease, deformity and deformity and pathological degeneration.

Similarly a healthy organization is hard to describe. But the symptoms of mal-organization can be identified. Whenever they are present there is need for thorough examination of the organization structure. Whenever they are present the right structural Principles are not being observed.

One telling symptom of mal-organization is the growth of levels of management by speaking poor or confused objectives, failure to remove poor performers, over centralization or lack of proper activities analysis. Mal-organization shows itself also in pressure for “frictional overhead” for coordinators, expediters, or assistants who have no clear job responsibility of their own but are supposed to help their superior do his job. Similarly it shows in the need for special measures to co-ordinate activities and to establish communications between managers, coordinating committees, incessant meetings full time liaison men and so forth.

Equally telling is the tendency to “go through channels” rather than directly to the man who has the information or the ideas needed or who should be informed of what is going on. This is particularly serious under functional, for it greatly aggravates the tendency organization of functional organization to make people think more of their function than of the business. It tends to insulate people and functional organization, even at its most decentralized, is a heavy insulator. Going through channels is not just a symptom of mal-organization; it is a cause.

Finally, whatever the organization pattern and structure, management must watch out for a serious and crippling constitutional disorder” a lopsided management age structure.

We have heard a good deal of the dangers of having a preponderantly old management. But a preponderantly young management is at least as dangerous. For overage in management liquidates itself fairly fast, and if enterprise survives till then, its recurrence can be prevented. A preponderantly young management means, however, that for years to come there will be no promotional opportunities for young people. All the good jobs are filled by men with twenty or more years of service life ahead of them. Good, men either will not join such a company or will quit. If they stay, they will soon cease to be good men as they urn into frustrated time servers. Twenty years hence the preponderantly young management of today will be a preponderantly old management with no one is sight to succeed them. In fact, every company that suffers from an old management today does so because, twenty years ago, under the impact of the Depression, it brought in a young management.

To insure a balanced age structure should be one of the main concerns of manger manpower planning. There must be enough older men to insure opportunities for younger men, enough younger men to insure continuity ‘enough older men to provide experience and enough younger men to provide drive. Age structure of management is like the metabolism of the human body; unless it is balanced all constitutional processes are diseased.

Good organization structure does not by itself good performance just as a good constitution does not guarantee great presidents, or good laws a moral society. But a poor organization stricture makes good performance impossible, no matter how good the individual mangers may be.

To improve organization structure through the maximum of federal decentralization and through application of the principle of decentralization to functionally organized activities will therefore always improve performance. It will make it possible for good men, hitherto stifled, to do a good job effectively. It will make better performers out of many mediocre men by raising their sights and the demands on them. It will identify the poor performers and make possible replacement by better men.

A good organization structure is not a panacea. It is not, as some organization theorists seem to think, the only thing that matters in managing management. Anatomy, after all, is not the whole of biology either. But the right organization structure is the necessary foundation; without it the best performance in all other areas of management will be ineffectual and frustrated.

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