Saturday, 9 May 2009

Picture your organisation

When you picture your organsiation, is it a heap of job-titled boxes, connected by wires? If so, hit delete and relearn to communicate (unless your organisation is a machine or a computer and the people are cogs or components). If you’re the boss, it starts with you.

That picture says a thousand words and it's all bad. It confirms what “everyone” tacitly knows: despite talk of empowerment, engagement, collaboration and the like, the organisation is a top down framework of authority connecting specific jobs. Its purpose is compliance.

An innovative, adaptable, vital, vibrant, creative and collaborative organisation isn’t boxes and wires. It’s a dynamic network of complex communication relationships between people doing good things well together.

The ever-changing pattern, content and purpose of their interpersonal communication is a product of their roles, personalities, skills and knowledge and the (business) environment. Any similarity to the conventional formal organisational structure is more likely coincidental than intentional.

The following case shows how this works:

A client asked me to help him restructure his organisation. When asked why, he answered that internal communication wasn’t working well.

I suggested that we set aside the ‘structure thing’ and simply take a look at who needed to communicate with whom and which communication relationships seemed to be the problem.

He described what seemed to him to be the problem relationships; we theorised why, bearing in mind the Extended DISC personality profiles of those involved. Then I coached him in telling the individuals how their communication appeared to him, why, what he would like to change and asking them what they thought. Then I coached him to do the same with the interacting pairs of individuals.

The ‘structural’ problem melted away and the work climate improved measurably.

Conventional organisational charts are at least industrial anachronisms and at worst promote unproductive manager/subordinate behaviours.

Got the picture?

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