Understanding organizations

Part I: The summary of the course “Understanding organisation“

(the answer of question n° 2)

Understanding organizations is a very important issue to cover and to study, especially for managers; and as Richard Hagberg said:

“Understanding organizations can mean the difference between success and failure in today’s fast changing business environment “, because there is some pillars in every organization which are determinant of the success of the later , such as :

“how people are organized “,”how do they coordinate efforts “,” how the division of task is done “,”how the authority is exercised”,”what is the people’s culture”,”how the decision is made”.. Not to mention others .So all these issues are to be understood and well managed.

The course we attended in understanding organizations provided many videos, questionnaires and games, which underlined some crucial concepts in understanding organizations, for instance:

“Organizational culture”, “management and leadership”, “team roles”, “conflicts”...Etc.

1 – Organizational culture :

In simple terms, organizational culture is “the way things work around here “. Culture can perhaps best be understood as overlapping webs or patterns of widely shared and deeply felt values and assumptions that are shared across an organization, which drive behaviours and performance levels.

Edgard Schein said “understanding the culture to understand the organisation “,

According to his approach culture can be viewed at several levels, some aspects of culture are visible and tangible , and others are intangible and unconscious , basic assumptions that guide the organisation are deeply rooted and often taken for granted ,avoidance of conflict is a value that is an excellent example of an unconscious norm that may have a major influence on the organisation but is frequently unconscious .Espoused or secondary values are at a more conscious level , they are the values that people in the organisation discuss , promote and try to live by. Some of the most visible expressions of culture are called Artifacts, they include the architecture and decors, the clothing people wear , the organisational processes and structures , and the rituals , symbols and celebrations. Other concrete manifestation of culture are founded in commonly used language, Logos, brochures , company slogans as well as statements and priorities.

Charles Handy in “understanding organisations mentioned four varieties of organisational culture :

◙ The power culture : in this culture the source of power is central and there

are few rules and little bureaucracy .

◙ The Role culture: it is a bureaucratic culture in which the role of job

Description is more important than the individuals who fills it , and roles and

Procedures are the major methods of influence.

◙ The task culture: it is extremely adoptable and project teams or tack forces

Are formed for specific purpose and can be reformed , abandoned or

continued; goal and tack oriented .

◙ the people culture: in this culture the task and roles are assigned to people

seeing there preferences and needs , and there is a little management control .

To summarize , culture is the operating system of the organisation , nevertheless sometimes cultures need to be more open to the change and reluctant to be stagnate as the example of Morgan explained .

2- Team roles :

within an organisation , “individuals must be organized in groups in order to make most effective use of there mix of skills and abilities “ , because groups and team works are very useful for major purposes :

◙ For the distribution of work .

◙ For the management and control of work .

◙ For Problem solving and decision making .

◙ For information processing .

◙ For information’s and idea’s collection.

◙ For testing and ratifying decisions

◙ For coordination and liaison .

◙ For increased commitment and involvement .

◙ For negotiations or conflict resolution

◙ For inquest or inquiry into the past .

these functions are to be combined and well managed in a team work to ensure the effectiveness of the later .On that point, Charles Handy talked about “the determinants of group effectiveness which can be divided as follows :

◙ The intervening factors : the givens , Leadership style, process and

procedures , motivation .

◙ The environment : norms and expectations, leader position ,inter-group

relations .

◙ The task : Nature