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What’s up with your business design?

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No matter how you look at it, organizations whether they are large or small, mature or just starting up, have a similar set of core activities. This set consists of two points:

a. Looking for opportunities b. Rapidly responding to the opportunities detected.

The key to successfully executing these two core activities is to find the best design for mastering the unique situational needs and challenges for the organization. And organizations can choose from an abundance of models that have been developed over time. However, all these models can be reduced to two main principles:

1. The mechanistic approach, and 2. The adaptive approach.

The larger a business, the more it will lean toward a mechanistic approach. The smaller it is, the more likely that an adaptive approach will be implemented. What, then, determines the difference between these two approaches? Well, here goes:

* When the organizational environment is rather stable and everybody in the process has clearly defined tasks, an organization can profit from a mechanistic approach: there is mass production involved, and the tasks to be performed are rather repetitive. They therefore don’t require much inventiveness. Think of the fast food chains and the large computer firms, for example.

* However, when the environment around the organization is subject to rapid changes and in need of quick responses, an organization does best to hire a team of creative, pro-active workers with a capability to work independently when needed, perform as a team when necessary, assign alternating responsibility to whomever masters a certain skill, and take fast decisions in order to stay in the ballgame.

Reality teaches us that the larger an organization becomes, the more it will convert to a mechanistic approach. And that’s not really something that can be prevented entirely. However, even large organizations can maintain a certain level of the entrepreneurial, creative spirit within their firm. How? Simply by establishing and facilitating intrapreneurial teams, which are units that perform as entrepreneurs within the larger totality. A number of the successful, globally operating businesses are already implementing this strategy.

Intrapreneurship is especially recommended when a large firm acquires a smaller one. In that case it is definitely desirable for top management to realize the importance of maintaining the status quo of the newly acquired, successfully operating, smaller firm, by keeping the adaptive spirit alive. If this is not done, the quality people will flow away like water from a cascade. Once an organization applies both approaches at the same time, we speak about simultaneous systems.

Of course there are other ways for mechanistically performing corporations to transform into more adaptive ones. However, some of the strategies to do so may not be very popular, although they may be effective or even life saving to the organization under some circumstances. The most obvious one is downsizing or rightsizing, whereby excessive numbers of workers are laid off in order to reduce the size of the corporation.

So now that this is all explained, it’s pretty easy to point in the direction of several firms and determine their probable approach from the top of your head. But what if you look at the little firm in the mirror, yourself, and you don’t even have a set business yet? Then, dear reader, you should first and foremost realize that you are performing the ultimate adaptive approach. Because you are a one-unit business, adapting to all circumstances, and performing as expected in each situation: sometimes as a leader, sometimes as a manager, and sometimes as a follower. And that is how it should stay! Try to maintain that adaptive approach within you, no matter where you get to work, or for how long.

Joan Marques emigrated from Suriname, South America, to California, U.S., in 1998. She holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a Master’s in Business Administration, and is currently a university instructor in Business and Management in Burbank, California. Look for her books “:Empower the Leader in You” and “The Global Village” in bookstores online or on her website: http://www.joanmarques.com

What’s up with your business design?
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About Joan Marques
Joan Marques emigrated from Suriname, South America, to California, U.S., in 1998. She holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a Master's in Business Administration, and is currently a university instructor in Business and Management in Burbank, California. Look for her books ":Empower the Leader in You" and "The Global Village" in bookstores online or on her website: http://www.joanmarques.com WebProNews Writer


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