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Organization Strategic Planning

Organization planning is an attempt by a manager, with or without the assistance of a resource consultant, to improve the performance of an organization by systematically analyzing and, if indicated, changing one or more of four basic organizational elements:

(I) The fundamental structure;

(2) The design of positions;

(3) The allocation of power;

(4) The staffing of key positions in the organization.

Any top manager can become a more effective organization planner. In fact, the top manager in any organization is the only one who can make the critical decisions necessary to think through an organizational plan and implement it. The top manager is fortunate if he has a fellow manager, either line or staff, who can help-perhaps just to act as a sounding board or a devil advocate, or simply to lend a sympathetic ear. In any event, for the organization plan to have a chance of success it must represent the convictions, experience, commitment, and judgment of the manager responsible for obtaining results from that grouping of people he calls his organization.

An effective organization planner can anticipate with reasonable accuracy how the organization will perform in response to changes that are made in any of the four elements identified in the definition of organization planning.

Realistic and patient implementation of plans is as important in this view as the planning process itself.

These should be stated at the outset:

1. There are no rules of organization. If someone mind is fixed on absolute notions of span of control, an appropriate number of levels from top to bottom in an organization, complete preference for profit center organization, an absolute aversion to task force management, or any other methodology or dogma of organization, it will have difficulty in improving his effectiveness as an organization planner. There is no universal set of rules.

2. Personality factors obviously must be considered in organization planning. That is, the personalities of individuals holding key positions that affect the direction of the organization must be taken into account in planning. Modelling organization decisions to accommodate personality strengths and / or weaknesses should be done reluctantly and only after a thorough analysis and recognition of the trade-offs involved in such compromises.

3. Changing structure is the most disruptive of all actions that an organization planner (i.e., a responsible manager) can take. Managers often have unrealistic expectations of the short-term impact of structural changes. Time and patience are needed to see the impact of any structural change of significance.

4. Proper structure facilitates organization performance, but it is no way guarantees success. Conversely, improper structures can, and many do, function reasonably well. However, improper structure is an impediment to full effectiveness.

5. All aspects of organization planning (structuring, designing positions, managing power, and staffing) must be approached from the point of view of what the top manager in the organization is trying to accomplish. What are his short- and long-range objectives?

6. Most if not all controversy over the issue of decentralization versus centralization and the conflict in line and staff relationships results from management power plays.

7. Probably because of its emotional overtones and its potential to cause conflict, the most neglected aspect of organization planning is the systematic analysis and management 0/ power allocation.

8. Invariably all the benefits to be gained from a well-planned organization (in the areas of structure, staffing, position and design, and power allocation) cannot be gained at the same time. The top manager must make trade-offs to get the optimum balance of benefits from these elements. The trade-offs can be made systematically only when their impact on obtaining objectives and overcoming obstacles is accurately perceived.

9. Work, or activity that passes for work, will expand to fill time all given objective. Systematic job design to provide a full challenge and a full workload directed towards the objectives of the organization are a must. Enforcing that design, where necessary, cannot be avoided.

10. There is a clear advantage to involving in planning those individuals who will be vitally affected by any changes resulting from the organizational planning process.

11. Organization planning is not a science, but it is certainly more than a seat of the pants art. Principles and processes have led to significant improvements in the ability of many managers to enhance the effectiveness of their organizations.


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