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What Makes Organizations Work?

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Part 1 in a 3 part series on the basic components of an organization.


Organizations the world over have various things in common that form the core of their operations. The concept of an organization is at the very least a group of people all going the same direction. In order to get to what they want to do they would use processes and technology. It so unfortunate that in this world laden with social media and other connected technology the human component of the organization is not given its requesite attention. I don't mean the training that is bandied about by many as development of the human component. I mean real cognitive development that improves the persons and the well being of the organization.

According to Katz and Kahn’s (1966) organizations require three main behaviors from individual members in order to be effective. 1. join and stay in the organization; 2. perform their roles dependably; and 3. take innovative and spontaneous action as necessary. These behaviors are influenced by the organizations ability to provide a fair recompense in four categories: Legal compliance, Rewards, Intrinsic motivation, and Identification with organizational values and goals. This concept is echoed in Sir Branson's mantra of 'treat your employees well and they will treat your customers well'.

An absence of these, inevitably results in subpar productivity and process failure. While the modern world purports self motivation, the truth is that people perform better when they are treated better. In the view of the Win Win, for the organization and the individual, seeking to meet a person's real need should result in better collaboration with organization and the attendant profits. So am I saying that you must pander to the needs of your employees??? No, what I am saying is meet the need, by clarifying what your organization wants in the first place. That is clarifying your organization's main purpose and then working that down to the various components of execution, which happens to be people.

As an organization grows and develops it gains several layers to improve manageability and task execution. This is needed and required. However over time the purpose of various processes and activities are forgotten or changed. This may be due to various reasons, the addition of new technology, change of personnel, regulatory requirements etc. all a function of growth and the dynamic business environment of the global economy.

Keeping the link of all activities processes and personnel to the main organizational purpose, its value proposition is critical to remaining lean, agile and viable. There are several tools and techniques that support this link. What is important is that what ever tool you choose must work with the organization's culture more than anything. Why you might ask? People as part of the agreement with the organization written or not, need to identify with the organization's values and goals. It is this identification that builds loyalty and spawns the platform for creatively addressing the challenges facing the organization. That platform is conveyed through the organization's culture, the unspoken but well known and understood functioning of the organization.

Understanding the culture which is created by the people you hire, helps you understand what are the needs required to be met as an organization, for your people to create your value preposition. Know this and you have a win win.

Roger St Hilaire is a father of 3 wonderful young ladies and husband to the sweetheart of his youth, management consultant and business owner.

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