Summary of Designing Your Organization

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Designing Your Organization book summary

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Organization consultants Amy Kates and Jay R. Galbraith have produced a big book – big in its scope and in its potential to influence management thinking in five key areas. Beginning with a primer on organizational design, the book focuses directly and insightfully on some of the major questions facing everyone from entrepreneurs in their garages to CEOs in their corner offices: How can companies best serve customers? How can firms effectively serve clients domestically and in foreign markets? How can you adopt what is best about a matrix structure without gumming up the works? How much centralization is too much, and how much decentralization is too little? How can companies, especially those that are already successful, promote innovation? In chapters packed full of considerations, suggestions and actionable ideas, Kates and Galbraith steer you through complexity. Unfortunately, by trying to integrate wide-ranging ideas with a reliance on their “Star Model,” they introduce a bit of complexity of their own: The Star Model clearly has value as a consulting tool, but in this text, it often seems present by default rather than by necessity, a condition that the authors would never tolerate in an organization. Nonetheless, getAbstract recommends this book as a guide for anyone who makes decisions or gives input on structuring an organization. This is one of those books to keep handy on the shelf and return to when approaching a big change or reacting to an emerging problem.

About the Authors

Amy Kates is a partner in Downey Kates Associates, a firm specializing in organization design. Jay R. Galbraith is a senior research scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California.


“Organization Design”: A Crash Course

Organization design allows your firm to reach its full potential through the intentional and strategic alignment of its core elements. It helps you replace the old-school, shoot-from-the-hip approach to running a business with a methodology that ensures success. Good design will help your enterprise promote good work: When people have to find ways to circumvent obstacles caused by organizational flaws, they waste money and time.

To start using the organization design framework, take your company strategy as the underlying rationale that drives your decision making. Once your company’s strategy is clear, you can prepare to implement organization design, which requires attention to the five critical, coordinating aspects in the life of a company that make up the “Star Model”:

  1. “Capabilities” – Start by defining the competencies your firm possesses or wishes to achieve – those competitive advantages in products or services that set you apart in the marketplace.
  2. “Structure” – Next, assess your firm’s optimum structure, which takes into account how leaders and managers will exercise...

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    J. C. 10 years ago
    "Designing Your Organization" recommends being intentional and strategic about organizational design and presents the good basic principles for organizational development. This abstract does create a curiosity about the "star model" causing me to want to purchase the book.

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