I’ve been a leader in an almost 200 year old company and a new business. I’ve led in a church plant and now in an over 100 years old established church. One thing I’ve learned is that there are many similarities in organizational structure — especially when it comes to the need for changing that structure.
Healthy organizations maintain an unchanging vision long-term by being willing to change their organizational structure as needed.
When it comes to organizational structure not everything needs changing. If the structure works. Keep it. It’s comfortable. People understand it. Progress is happening.
But progress is happening is key.
There are times to change. It’s important that leaders realize those times.
How do you know when organizational structural change is needed?
Here are 7 considerations to discern it is time:
When you continually encounter obstacles trying to move forward. If every decision you are trying to make hits roadblocks or dead ends, it may be time to build a new road.
When the steps to make the change is more exhausting than the value the change provides. Change should be exhilarating once you get to it. Change brings momentum. When the process to get there is so long or difficult that it wears you out and you’ve got no excitement left — it may be time for some structure change.
When you can no longer attract leaders. When people are controlled more than empowered you will attract doers but you won’t attract visionary leaders. Creative leadership will die, because genuine leaders rebel against controlling environments.
When you spend more time discussing than doing. Granted we need to meet about some things. We need to plan, strategize and organize. I suggest we have better meetings, but more than that we need action. Our visions are hungry for progress towards them. Meetings should create action. The best structures help you get busy doing not attending yet another meeting.
When the structure you have now isn’t sustainable long term. Structure based upon people, for example, rather than progress, will eventually need changing as people change. Ask yourself will this structure work 10 years from now? If not, the time to change is now.
When all creativity is structured out of the system. Sometimes the process can become so clearly defined that nothing new is needed. There is no room for different ideas or opinions. No one needs them anymore. Every question is answered. When people fall into routines, they get bored, and complacency becomes the norm. Development stops. Time for some structural change.
When there is no longer any confusion. If everything is so carefully scripted you may need some organizational structure change. Some of the best discoveries are found amidst chaos. I love what Andy Stanley says about “a tension to be managed, not a problem to be solved”. Good organizations have some of those.
Those are some of my thoughts based on experience. What would you add to my list?