Ever since Apple launched their first smartphone, I’ve always used an iPhone. Over the years my home and office have becomes adorned with Apple products – computers, tablets, tv. Everything ‘just worked’ and I was happy with the closed eco system. That was until last month when I decided I needed a phone with a larger screen. Apple’s current offerings were either too large or too small and I was faced faced with the uncomfortable decision of getting an Android phone.
Moving to a new system gave me a few butterflies. However, I took the plunge and after a few hiccups – especially exporting contacts (still not 100% sorted) I’m really happy with my Android phone. The comments I’ve had since changing phones has been surprising. There’s something about Apple, either people love them or hate them it seems. Having tired both systems I can say I like iOS and I like Android too. They achieve the same end result, but go about it in different ways.
These two very different approaches to system design got me thinking about a change project we’re working on. Apple make great phones. iPhones are well made and work seamlessly with other Apple stuff. However they don’’t work as well outside the apple ecosystem. Android, on the other hand, doesn’t offer the same seamless experience, but it is more flexible and offers greater compatibility. The trade off is Android’s reduced security.
The organisation development Agenda
Apple’s safe, secure ecosystem is one of its greatest strengths, but also one of its biggest weaknesses. This balance between control and flexibility or empowerment is also an important factor in organisational change and is particularly important when it comes to aligning an organisation’s structure with its vision and business priorities
This balance between control and empowerment is perhaps on of today’s greatest challenges. Empowering employees leads to a more engaged workforce, greater innovation, and measurable productivity gains. However, organisations also require control and the management of risk. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Finance is one function where risk isn’t particularly welcome. Systems are introduced to exert control or mitigate risking and the benefits are quickly recognised.
The problem comes when the perceived benefits of greater control are extended to other parts of the organisation where flexibility is far more important. The controls that in one situation work extremely well, now become a barrier. Recognising where control and where empowerment will deliver the best outcome is one key to good organisation design.
We have developed 5 principles to help think through the key decision in designing a structure that will support the achievement of business goals:
- Vision, values and priorities come before structure
- Organisational structure should be designed to enable you to deliver your vision and priorities
- Organisational structure should be designed around future requirements, not current capabilities ‣
- There is an inevitable tension between autonomy and control that needs to be managed
- Reporting lines should be based on function, autonomy and accountability
For a full explanation and some guidance on putting these principles into operation, explore this Slideshare presentation.