An organization is only as effective as its processes.
So when we design the formal structure of an organization, it should improve rather than obstruct process performance.
But all too often, the structure and the processes are poorly aligned. Accountability for process performance is blurred. Multiple layers of managers slow down decision making. Activities that should be tightly integrated are instead separated.
How can we avoid this? In this video, I describe one approach.
I present the FRAPS tool, which stands for “FRamework for Aligning Process and Structure”:
The tool is particularly useful when you evaluate two sets of processes or two sets of roles against each other. Here are some examples:
- “Marketing and sales – should they be grouped together or should they remain separate (and report to two different managers)?
- Should we outsource manufacturing (and by implication, separate it from engineering, which is still going to be internal)?
- Should customer support and sales be integrated?
Although the tool itself is simple – it is just a 2×2 diagram – it summarizes a large body of theory and research on organization design. The principle behind the diagram is powerful yet frequently neglected. The purpose is to ensure that the formal structure (in particular, the boundaries between units) matches the resource and information flows.
With two colleagues, I have developed software tool that can help you align the structure with the work processes. There’s more information on the Reconfig web site.
There’s a more thorough description of the principles behind this approach in chapter 5 and 7 of my book (see particularly page 168).