Is Your Structure Undermining Your Strategy?

If your organizational structure has outlasted your last few strategic shifts, chances are it's hampering success.

We all instinctively know the game is won by the teams who match the right plays with the right number of players, occupying the right positions and wielding the right skills. And yet, how often do we wait months, and maybe even years, to adapt our structures to our strategies?

In my practice, it is not uncommon for me to work with change savvy clients who, nonetheless, are attempting to implement radically different strategies (than they held just two or three years ago) with the same (or just incrementally different) organizational structures. Absent intervention, these companies run the risk of falling prey to some very common and very serious pitfalls such as...

  • Failing to signal the significance of the change to your executive, management and line staff;
  • Neglecting to disrupt powerful vestiges of the past, allowing those comfortable with, and incentivized by, yesterday's model to outnumber or overpower those who will prosper by successful change;
  • Continuing to make precious people investments in the wrong areas, resulting in wasted cash and too few of the skills needed for success; 
  • Demanding new types of organizational gymnastics out of inflexible silos incapable of complex, interdisciplinary collaboration; and,
  • Chasing new customers and dollars with old tactics.

The Point
If your marketplace is evolving, don't just change your strategy and jump to execution. Allow your new organizational design to be one of the first ways your new strategy takes shape in the eyes of your employees.

As soon as your new strategy comes into focus, begin reexamining your existing structure. Align your people investments to the needs of the new strategy by dialing back the capabilities which are no longer key to success; fortifying weaker, but now critical functions; reformulating departments that need to work together differently; and, creating new muscles where none exist.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!


Edward E. Tyson is a Marine Corps veteran, former strategy executive and co-founder of PerSynergy Consulting - a boutique consulting firm focused on strategy development and execution; individual, team and organizational development; and performance improvement.