Essay: Management Principles Explain the Terms Organic

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Management Principles

Explain the terms organic and mechanistic in relation to organisations.

Organizations require both organic and mechanistic elements in their structures to survive by being able to successfully respond to threats and opportunities while stabilizing their core functions. The concept of the value chain as originally defined by Dr. Michael Porter illustrates how the core functions of how a business generates profits must be organic enough to respond quickly to market opportunities and threats yet stable enough in line-of-business functions to consistently deliver strategies (Porter, 1990). The value chain is one of the more flexible frameworks for illustrating how organic and mechanistic organizations can co-exist and complement each other over the long-term.

The ability of organizations to attain their most challenging objectives are often more dictated by how well processes, systems and personnel can be orchestrated to a common objective. Dr. Porter noted that the orchestration of these three elements together were most evident in the personal productivity of knowledge workers who were drastically reducing time-to-market and increasing long-term company value (Porter, 1990). The ability to orchestrate organic and mechanistic organizational elements across an organization and have personal productivity emerge as the dominance differentiate for a business is possible using the value chain and determinants of competitive advantage Dr. Porter defined and continues refining today (Porter, 1990). The organic and mechanistic nature of organizations need to be agile and flexible enough to flex in response to opportunities and threats while keeping a stabilized platform for personal productivity to flourish.

Organic organizations are by definition decentralized with highly flexible, broadly defined jobs that have a high level of interdependence among employees and units (Wang, Ahmed, 2003). These organizations also focus on multi-directional communication across a diverse base of contributors, many of their more subject matter experts in their given areas. As a result of the decentralized nature of these organizations and the high level of expertise they attract with individual contributors, they develop cultures that highly value initiative and creativity (Wang, Ahmed, 2003). Successfully managing teams in an organic culture requires more of a transformational vs. transactional leadership mindset, as individual accountability and performance is critical for the success of an organic culture to perform well (Weisberg, Porell, 2011). Organic organizations are also by nature more based on broadly defined roles, with a minimum of regulations, processes and procedures in place, which allow for greater employee participation and problem-solving. All of these aspects of an organic organization further illustrate how it both requires and can nurture transformational leadership in managers and executives. For an organic organization to attain a high level of performance, it needs to continually evolve from being transactionally-based to more transformational in how it manages its people, aligns processes and uses internal systems.

An organic organizational structure is better suited for being a knowledge-sharing network in that it enables greater collaboration throughout the enterprise (Wang, Ahmed, 2003). The development of knowledge sharing networks throughout larger organizations require a hybrid structure of organic and mechanistic attributes in order to support more complex knowledge sharing and generating processes. A prime example of the combining of organic and mechanistic organizational structures can be found in the Toyota Production System (TPS), a world-class organization that is responsible for significant levels of knowledge creation and use globally (Dyer, Nobeoka, 2000). The TPS is known for having very agile organizational structures across it supply chain partners while also having rigid, very well-defined procedures and systems for enabling supplier quality, distributed order management, and services pricing (Dyer, Nobeoka, 2000). The central or most common attributes of an organic organization most closely align with the innovative aspects of the TPS, while the more mechanistic aspects of the TPS structure allow for greater ongoing stability and support for onboarding, quality management and ongoing sourcing.

In contrast to the organic organizations' more collaborative, interdependent and open approach to accomplishing complex tasks, mechanistic organizations rely on very well-defined, clear and centralized approaches to communicating and completing projects over time There are very distinct lines of command and control, clear definitions of authority and span of control as well (Waldersee, Griffiths, Lai, 2003). A mechanistic organizational structure will also be more focused on metrics and tend to value short-term measurable results over longer-term more difficult results to track over time. For the lack of agility, a mechanistic organization is often ideal for managing highly repetitive, rote tasks that would otherwise be extremely difficult for an organic organization to deal with., Efficiency and predictability are the critical success factors for mechanistic organizations, and their approach to organizing people, processes and systems reflect this fact clearly (Waldersee, Griffiths, Lai, 2003). A mechanistic organization is also one that creates highly rigid cultures that reflect a mindset of repetitiveness, predictability and ease of control vs. The more collaborative, open-ended type of roles within organic organizational structures. Strategies over time will reflect the structures of an organization, with the more mechanistic structures being more rigid and less likely to be situationally-grounded and focused in their strategies (Waldersee, Griffiths, Lai, 2003). The focus is on how to create more specialization, standardization and formalization over agility and the ability to respond to market conditions. While mechanistic organizations excel in their chosen strategies when the people, processes and systems are all unified towards a common goal, they have a major limitation in lacking the ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions. As a result, during periods of economic uncertainty and turbulence, mechanistic organizations tend to be less able to react and change direction quickly. In the context of telecommuting, a mechanistic organization would require workers to log into a portal at a specific time every day, participate in a video conference to make sure they were actually at work, and regularly receive random calls at 5pm or the end of their work day to see what they have accomplished. As would be suspected, mechanistic organizations don't typically tolerate telecommuting or working from home very often given how tightly aligned their cultures are to the mechanistic approach to defining processes and systems.

2. Would you describe the workplaces in the case study as more organic or mechanistic? Why?

The workplaces in the case study are more organic than mechanistic in that they actively encourage a more collaborative, open series of roles and nurture the development of more efficient means of cross-communication. Teleworkers and telecommuters excel in these unique roles when they have a high level of individual responsibility and initiative, which provides the necessary foundation for virtual teams to succeed (Weisberg, Porell, 2011). Organic organizations tend to also nurture and develop more transformational vs. transactional leaders, as this organizational structure promotes and rewards long-term orientation to tasks and emphasis collaboration to achieve objectives (Golden, Raghuram, 2010).

The examples in the case study show how effective each of the individual contributors are in defining their own unique approaches to motivating themselves as well. This illustrates that each of the remote workers have a strong sense of motivation for their specific roles in an organization, and have the freedom to define just how their work will be done. In a mechanistic organization, this would be nearly impossible to attain at an individual freedom level get the high degree of synchronization and planning required. A mechanistic organizational structure, so focused on the aspects of predictability and measuring outcomes, would not be able to deal with individual contributors being located broad geographic distances from each other, not able to measure or quantify the combined effects of their contribution (Waldersee, Griffiths, Lai, 2003). This aspect of a mechanistic organization being highly regimented and specifically designed to drive out any variation would also create a culture less tolerant of variations in work styles and approaches, and would further squelch the nature of virtual workers. Due to all of these factors associated with a mechanistic organization and the culture it would promote, it is clear that for a virtual team and its members to excel, the organization must have an organic aspect to it as well. The greater the level of individual trust that arises from a shared vision or goal in a virtual team, made possible through organic organizational structures, the greater the long-term value it produces (Morganson, Major, Oborn, Verive, Heelan. 2010). Organically-based organizational structures are creating more value by enabling virtual teams that are capable of trusting each other more, creating more efficient levels of communication and collaboration while attaining shared, long-term and often complex goals (Pyoria, 2011). Throughout the case the key success factor of these workers is the level of trust they have attained and keep reinforcing with their employers that the work will get done, intelligent decisions will be made, and the company's best interests will continue to be attained. Trust is the strongest and most potent catalyst there is for ensuring companies have the ability to create and sustain the effectiveness of virtual teams, empowering employees to seek their own unique work styles that best align with their core strengths (Relja, Bandalovic, 2008). A virtual team is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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