Understanding Complex Organizations

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A leader’s guide understanding complex organizations: An expanded “7-S” perspective Large organizations are complex in nature. According to Weber ( 1998:1), ‘ one of the most useful frameworks ever developed for understanding an entire organization is the classic “7-S Framework” ‘ which states that ‘an organization could be understood in terms of a dynamic relationship among seven key elements: Strategy, Structure, Systems, Superordinate goals, Style, Staff(people), and Skills.’ It is argued that practicing managers who are committed to developing a broadened ‘leadership point of view’, have a ‘responsibility to understand the larger organization’ as they may eventually perform in or offer professional services to one. (Weber, 1998:2) The “7-S Framework” is a tool used for analyzing performance issues of an organization. It is used by organizational leaders and consultants to determine how well their organizations are performing and why. According to Weber (1998:9), strategy is ‘choosing among alternative paths for translating the superordinate goals into action in ways that create a competitive advantage.’ There are business strategy, corporate strategy, functional strategy, and work group or individual strategy types in existence. It is essential to note that a strategic perspective is reflected at every level of analysis whether business, corporate, functional, work group or individual strategy type. It has been said that, ‘in most larger organizations, a person doesn’t really join the “organization”, but rather a particular division, business unit, or function’ and that ‘business leaders’ are ‘to proactively generate structural change that will help facilitate strategic change and / or changes in structure that more clearly help the organization realize its superordinate goals and shared values.’ (Weber, 1998:12) An organizational structure is the way in which job tasks are formally divided, grouped and coordinated. (Robbins and Judge, 2009:553). Six elements...
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