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How’s your organization?

Posted by jlubans on June 28, 2011

One of my most useful activities in class and in workshops is for participants to complete the Organizational Continuum, a one page chart. I got an early version of the chart from Jerry Campbell, my boss at Duke University, and I have adapted a few times since.
Here it is, in abbreviated form:

The Organizational Continuum: Where are you? On which side do you want to be?

Decision making:
Hierarchical …………………………………….....................Collaborative
Organizational structure:
Rigid ……………………………………............................Flexible
Information flow:
Limited (filtered)……………………………............Organization-wide
Work environment:
Boss: Worker ………………………………....................Team-based
Work process:
Procedure-based (“By-the-book”) ……..........Continuously improving
Response to change:
Defensive ……………………………………....................Open
Budget model:
Incremental ………………………………………....................Fluid

Most recently, I asked my Riga students to fill out this form. I explained to them that musically speaking, on the left is the conductor-led organization. We know who the boss is.
On the far right is the self-managing Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. They play without a conductor and they play very well. There is no obvious boss.
I asked my students to chart what their current organization is and then to chart the organization they want.
My 16 students – each of them – went from a line on the far left (where they are) to a line on the far right (where they want to be.)
What would your chart look like?
In my Klaipeda presentation about 90 or so librarians and university administrators took the exercise using a translated version of this chart. The end result was the same as for my students. The status quo is the command and control model on the left; and, seemingly everyone’s desired organization is on the right with more freedom and less direction.
Next time, I will stop talking and ask the audience to reflect about what they can do to move from the left to the right, clearly the direction they want to move toward.

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