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An organizational structure is one of those things that can make or break a team’s ability to deliver the goal. It is a topic some leaders, at their own peril, choose to ignore.

There are many debates, and some holding passionate positions, on the kinds of organizational structures that work. A matrix organization can be centralized or decentralized but should you matrix in the first place? A matrix may remove silos but, as the human capital argument goes, how well does an employee do with more than one boss? An analogy is having two simultaneous bills due but only enough cash to pay one. Who does the employee “pay”? This question has filled many volumes of business journals.

What about centralization versus de-centralization. Do you centralize or de-centralize the operations? Both have pros and cons. A centralized operation, if not careful, can get bogged down in decision making and many layers of management whereas a de-centralized operation may end up with competing points of view on direction. Before throwing your hands in the air and walking away, maybe you could consider a hybrid of the two.

If we called the organizational structure you operate under the “form” and what you do, your “function” then maybe, “Form follows function”. Yes I know it’s a 20th century principle more associated with architecture and industrial design (which, yes, has been endlessly debated as well). But something about it appeals to my inner engineer.

The essence of form following function is that how something is shaped should be based upon its intended purpose. If we took that idea and applied it to an organizational structure, then how a group is organized should be based on its purpose – they are tightly linked.

There are volumes written on the subject of matrix, centralized or de-centralized organizations – and my intent here is not to say one is particularly better than the other. What I am trying to get at is you should take the time to make a rational decision for your environment. Don’t leave it up to chance. If there’s a “function” issue for your organization, consider looking deeper into its “form”.

Be intentional,
Melissa