Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Strategy, Structure and Culture: Three Keys to Organizational Success

There are many approaches to understanding how the workplace works. What makes people productive? Why do some companies and organizations overcome obstacles and challenges, while others seem to collapse under their weight and fail?

leadership transitioning
When considering such questions, it’s helpful to examine three key areas: strategy, structure, and culture. As we’ll see, one of those areas is often, and too easily, overlooked.

The first area, strategy, is the proverbial “no-brainer.” After all, how can any enterprise exist, let alone move forward, without a carefully thought out strategy? Likewise, no project or initiative can hope to succeed without team members understanding why it is being implemented, and why it is important.

You may have heard the term cross-functional. In management, it refers to the way teams or departments with different skills or purposes work together for a common goal or objective. That can only be accomplished if there is a clearly defined and agreed-upon strategy.

Second, there must be structure. In most companies, that will include organizational charts, the division of the organization into departments, and systems for communication and interaction between those departments, with managers and supervisors installed at various levels throughout. Some structures will be hierarchical, while others—particularly in smaller businesses—may be more collegial in nature.

Finally, there is the issue of culture. An organization’s culture may be clearly defined in its mission statement. Often, however, the culture takes on a life of its own. Culture reflects the unwritten rules of organizational behavior—the values that define an organization and shape the way it operates.

Too often, an organization can’t, or won’t, see past the nose on its face to fully understand its culture and how it got that way. But a simple examination of past performance, and the factors that contributed to the current climate within an organization, can help leaders and managers better shape a more productive and functional corporate environment—with the future clearly in mind.

How do you measure up in these three areas? It’s worthwhile—even critical—to examine your strategy, structure and culture for clues to how your organization can be truly successful in accomplishing its goals.

Jim Ondrus is a Vistage Chair and president of JA Ondrus, LLC in Canton, Ohio.

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