Organic Organizational Structure
An organic organizational structure is a flexible, decentralized approach to management that promotes teamwork and encourages communication and collaboration among various departments or teams in a company. This structure is often contrasted with a more traditional, hierarchical or mechanistic structure.
Key characteristics of an organic organizational structure include:
- Low levels of formalization: There are fewer written rules and procedures, and tasks and roles are often more fluid and adaptable to change.
- Decentralized decision making: Decision-making authority is pushed down to lower levels in the organization, allowing employees on the front lines to make key decisions.
- Cross-functional teams: Instead of rigid departments, the organization is often made up of interdisciplinary teams that bring together individuals with different skills and expertise to work on specific projects or tasks.
- Free flow of information: Communication is less structured and more informal, often moving in all directions (up, down, and sideways) across the organization.
- Empowerment: Employees at all levels are encouraged to take initiative, innovate, and make decisions to meet the organization’s goals.
Organic structures are often more suitable for businesses operating in fast-changing, uncertain, or highly complex environments where flexibility, innovation, and adaptability are crucial for success. Tech startups, creative agencies, and research and development (R&D) firms are examples of the types of organizations that might benefit from an organic structure.
Example of Organic Organizational Structure
Let’s take the example of a fictional software development company, SoftDev Co., that uses an organic organizational structure:
SoftDev Co. is a company that develops custom software solutions for various industries. Due to the highly specialized nature of its work and the rapid rate of change in the technology industry, SoftDev Co. uses an organic structure to stay flexible and innovative.
Cross-functional teams: For each project, SoftDev Co. forms a project team consisting of software developers, UI/UX designers, quality assurance testers, and a project manager. Each team is responsible for its own planning, coordination, and control over the work, encouraging collaboration and shared responsibility.
Decentralized decision-making: The project manager facilitates the team but does not make all decisions single-handedly. Each team member has the authority to make key decisions regarding their area of expertise, empowering them to contribute in meaningful ways.
Free flow of information: The company promotes open communication and transparency. Team members are encouraged to share ideas, give feedback, and ask questions at any time, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning.
Low levels of formalization: While there are certain standards to ensure quality and compliance, there is no rigid set of rules dictating how tasks should be done. This allows team members to come up with creative solutions and adapt their approach as needed.
Empowerment: Employees are encouraged to take initiative and responsibility. For example, if a developer identifies a potential improvement in the software design, they’re empowered to propose and implement the change after discussing it with their team.
By adopting an organic structure, SoftDev Co. can adapt more quickly to the needs of their clients, the changes in technology, and the ideas of their team members. This structure also allows the company to better harness the specialized skills and creativity of its employees.