schneider + partners has over 25 years of experience helping creative and project based organisations to be even more successful in running their organisations and achieving their goals. This series of tips and supporting notes reflects some of the main issues that we have seen. Some are surprisingly elemental:
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schneider + partners
creative management consultants - london
+ 44 (0)20 7586 0110
Is your organisational structure really working effectively for you? Does it reflect the key activities that you undertake, or need to undertake? Is it assisting cross firm coherency? Does it help develop present and future leadership skills? Is it encouraging teams across the business to develop sub-strategies consistent with the broad strategic intent of the practice? Does it help all the team(s) understand what they are trying to achieve, their strategies for doing so, and the resources they have or need?
The design of a firm's organisational structure can set the foundations - and limitations - for its future success.
Many creative organisations use hierarchical structures without necessarily thinking through whether this really reflects the requirements of their organisation. On the positive side, such structures provide clear lines of reporting and can be highly responsive. Staff know who has responsibility and authority and can respond quickly if the person in charge wishes that to be the case. The downside is that in many cases such structures fail to embrace some of the key activities that need to be undertaken by the firm and the related responsibilities that should be allocated and developed. They can also be poor at ensuring consistent cross practice and inter-team performance - for example, in terms of coherency of systems and how projects are delivered from inception to completion. They tend not to reflect the team nature of many project organisations, nor the fact that individuals may have various different roles at any one time - for example across several projects, or other areas of activity - at any one time. And often they do not help others in the team - the rising stars / next generation of leaders - to develop their strategic and other skills.
Serious problems can result from inappropriately designed organisational structures. These may range from a lack of clear responsibilities to the development of internal fiefdoms, dysfunctional sub-cultures, internal conflicts, and confused lines of reporting. There can also be frustration amongst staff, low morale, and poor responsiveness, with key areas of the business lacking direction and attention. With gaps in the leadership and management of some areas of activity, an organisation can also be left missing opportunities, and lacking the right teams and skills when it comes to succession and career progression.
The challenge is to develop an organisational structure that will actually meet an organisation's needs and be able to support its strategic intent. An effective structure should help encourage the development of clear thinking about sub-strategies throughout the firm. It should also provide for the development of a range of leadership skills, teamworking and energised activities focused on achieving the firm's goals. No one solution will fit all, and an organisation's needs may change over time. But in our experience ensuring that a firm’s strategies and its organisational structure are developed to be mutually supportive is an important starting point.
Organise effectively (to reflect what you actually do, or need to do)