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The next step after hierarchical - bureaucratic organizations for Business Continuity?

The alleged faults of Hierarchical and bureaucratic organisations can well start with the impact on strategy. Mintzberg’s view in 1985 about strategy: following the hierarchical structure was a risk for the firms. This work from “bureaucratic strategy planners often ended up overcoming the work of Seniors Managers who were also dedicated to resolving business issues”.

Conclusion: too far from reality (bottom-up). He then introduced the concept of “emergent strategy” as a “series of actions that occur over time that were not explicitly planned, with the aim to learn from experience and to involve the lower levels of the organisation” (bottom-up). The beginning of the logic of adaptation and resiliency?

If we want to further dig into the disadvantages of hierarchy, control, and bureaucracy, we can include the innovation strategy and processes, which are widely explored even before COVID. One of the most critical disadvantages is the lack of flexibility to implement innovative ideas quickly and efficiently to adapt to the pace of the market’s changes. The decision-making process is formal and rigid, and often despite the bottom floor’s attempt to create and prototype new ideas, paperwork and different hierarchical levels make it difficult for the higher levels to visualise and comprehend the reality owns by bottom-floor

Another allegation brought by my favourite author, Hamel, about hierarchy and bureaucracy in terms of organisational structure and culture is expressed in his last book, “Humanocracy”. In the book, he states that bureaucracy and hierarchical levels within the current environment are “an increasingly complex world ( that) has outgrown organisational top-down command-and-control leadership”. Here, the necessity to invest in the potential of people. How?

- Power is distributed to the bottom, rewards are linked to performance, profits are shared, and small teams are empowered through profit and loss management and purchasing responsibility.

- While removing hierarchies , prioritising people who operate in the processes over job titles. Moreover, organisations encourage continuous learning in a safe environment and give employees the power to choose or reject their managers.

This has immediate implications: managers need to become capable of coaching, supporting, and motivating employees. It is a radical bottom-up approach.

- Relationships in this context are based on social networks and self-organisation. The values are “learning, trust, respect and accountability”.

The consideration of the People-centric approach is visible in this quote: “Whatever your organisation makes or sells, its business is growing human beings”.

Despite these main disadvantages and inefficacy in the current business environment, a radical shift from one organisational behaviour to another is not advised.

However, as it looks from recent cases of heavy layoffs (synonymous with radical changes) these are not a welcome alternative towards conserving the past.



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