Are organisational charts last century?

Recently Spark announced a complete restructure of their business by transitioning to an “Agile” way of working.  The Agile method creates small units whose team members come from a variety of traditional business functional areas to work together on projects.

For example, each project team would have someone from operations, marketing, sales, finance, IT, etc.   Each team has projects that they work on together, often with tight and finite time frames for delivery.  This is a bold initiative aimed at speeding up a large business, making it structurally less hierarchical and more dynamic.

Really, Spark is trying to operate more like a small business!

But are small businesses utilising their inherent advantages of nimbleness and customer intimacy?

The reality is that most SMEs are inefficient because they lack sufficient structure.  A lack of structure means that everyone does a bit of everything, no one has clear job descriptions, responsibilities, or reporting lines.  Roles and responsibilities are often created to fit the person, rather than the person being hired and trained to fit the role that the business needs to function effectively.

Larger SMEs often end up with silos – different teams, with different leaders, working independently of each other with little collaboration or commonality of goals or purpose.   Often is there is no clear leader – a breach of the key one leader principle.

Organisational charts are plans that help to outline the business structure, roles, responsibilities and reporting lines for the business to operate effectively.  There should be no silos and one clear leader – for the business as a whole, for each functional area, and for each team.

Most SMEs do not have organisational charts or effective, up to date job descriptions.  The reason for this I suspect is because it is a time consuming and thought-provoking project to work through.  The process raises many challenges – determining who is responsible for what, and who reports to whom.  The process may also expose gaps in abilities or a poor fit for roles, problems that need to be addressed.

Creating an effective business structure, and documenting it, is challenging.  It is an investment of time and energy, and because it impacts on real people it is likely to require behavioural change and learning.  There may be significant resistance to overcome.

To unlock the inherent advantages of being a small business, creating an effective business structure is a fundamental necessity.

Please contact Q2 if you would like to discuss your business structure and how you can make it more effective.

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