Should Structure Follow Strategy?

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Should Structure Follow Strategy?
When you're creating organization charts, you'll often have to deal with the eternal question: Does structure follow strategy or does strategy follow structure ?
But you have to refine it and relate it to "organisational effectiveness" ...
Thanks folks !

What comes first: strategy or structure?
According to me, every organisation does follow certain rules and regulations in a disciplined manner. Therefore, structure normally follows strategy. We can say, strategy and structure are co-related and are interdependent.

Structure follows Strategy. But Often too Slowly...
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
A frequent problem with structure following (changes in) strategy is that often this happens too slowly. Because of inertia, unwillingness and many other motives to resist change. You can witness quite often that an organizational crisis and turnaround management are needed to finally make the organizational structure change happen.

Speed of Changes of Structures
Mariano Talanchuk, HR Consultant, Argentina, Member
Formal structures change slowly, because informal structures change slowly too (habits, traditions, values, etc.).
Ideas and thoughts are always faster than actions.
Therefore flexibility in organizations depends more on management style than on its formal aspects (structure and planning).

Structure versus Strategy
trent hosen, Trinidad and Tobago, Member
In my country (Trinidad), structure for most times comes before strategy, because in most organisations here (and especially the ones controlled by the state) top jobs are created for 'the boys'.
When these incompetent 'boys' hold high office on the chart, then comes the scramble to work on strategy. More often this cart before the horse arrangement creates confusion and chaos in these organisations.

Structure and Strategy
Nathan Caswell, Business Consultant, United States, Member
Structure and Strategy are architectural Form and Function. In material architectures, there is a start-to-finish sequence - at some point the building is built - that justifies the notion that form follows function. In a purposeful organization the relation is a simultaneous equation. Change in either may drive change in the other.

Without Strategy There's no Need for Structure
Onyangore Peter Ogendi, Teacher, Kenya, Member
Colleagues, it's strategy that gives birth to structure. You can have very good set structures but without strategy no results. Take an example of an educational institution with very good structures including job descriptions, physical structures etc. Without good strategies they don't have results.
On the other hand, without structures even excellent strategies can't work!
Strategies and structures are like Siamese twins joined in the heart. Separating them is killing the performance of an organisation. So as managers let's try as much as possible to join to achieve better if not the best results. Remember Peter Drucker - in his many writings he appears to suggest that we have to think of strategies together with structure before we go in for any undertaking in management.

Should Structure Follow Strategy?
Ramon Reyes, Saudi Arabia, Member
I don't think so.
The reason why I have the strategy is because I have the structure.
If I would like to build a house, I have the structure of the house, a mental picture in my mind, how I would like it to look like and what it needs to contain- in and out. I will then create a strategy on how I would proceed in the building of the house- its process.

Strategy or Structure First ⇒ How can we Build Flexible Organization Structures?
Charles P. Keith, Management Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@Ramon Reyes: I would add that the question of strategy or structure first is an iterative question. While from one perspective Ramon Reyes is correct in his placement of strategy and structure, I could also easily see that I would first have a strategy of what I wanted to do with a house, its functionality, etc. This is my strategy and I would build so that the house would fulfill the strategy.
Unfortunately, it is almost never an either/or proposition. We acquire organizations that were designed for one purpose but that purpose has now changed and we are faced with the task of "remodeling the house" so that it fits our new purpose.
As a global organization designer, I have found that the question is almost never about what the client organization wants today but more about how can we build flexibility into the structure so that we meet current strategy expectations yet can shift more easily into future structure requirements for new strategies.

Structure and Strategy
rajat baisya, Professor, India, Member
In my opinion strategy should precede structure and thus structure must follow strategy. A structure is created to deliver strategic objectives and hence predetermined structure cannot be created first to deliver. Then question comes up who will then create strategy? The answer usually is the leader and investor or investor's appointed representative, because strategy normally emanates from the top but involves everyone.

Does Structure Follow Strategy?
Robert Gerth, Project Manager, Sweden, Member
My experience is that in practice juvenile, entrepreneurial organizations tend to start with strategy formulation and then develop a structure to meet the strategy´s requirements.
Mature corporations already have a well-established organization structure which forms the thinking, the culture, the management style and process types etc. Organization structure creates a context and framework for managing firms’ capabilities. This take years to develop and accomplish, and most organizations are unwilling to completely neglect these capabilities.
Thereby structure impacts the strategy formulation. Even if top managers of a major corporation see a need for a turnaround strategy, the comprehensive but necessary work of changing the structure to manage the new capabilities can actually prohibit the implementation decision – at least it influences the strategy process.
So, in my opinion what come first depends on the life-cycle stage of the company.
Editor: Indeed, see also Greiner's Growth Phases Model, stating that organizations go through 5 (6) stages of growth and need appropriate strategies and structures to cope.

Does Structure Follow Strategy or Does Strategy Follow Structure
david suirara, Student (MBA), Solomon Islands, Member
I agree with the view that structure should follow strategies. But in most public institutions "funding" influences the strategies which in turn influence the structure.

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