Organizational Work Flow

Organizations are continually restructured to meet the demands imposed by the environment. Restructuring can produce a major change in the role of individuals in both the formal and the informal organization. Many researchers believe that the greatest usefulness of behavioralists lies in their ability to help the informal organization adapt to changes and resolve the resulting conflicts. Unfortunately, behavioralists cannot be totally effective unless they have an input into the formal organization as well. Conflicts arise out of changes in the formal structure. Whatever organizational form is finally selected, formal channels must be developed so that each individual has a clear description of the authority, responsibility, and accountability necessary for the flow of work to proceed.

In the discussion of organizational structures, the following definitions will be used:

• Authority is the power granted to individuals (possibly by their position) so that they can make final decisions for others to follow.

• Responsibility is the obligation incurred by individuals in their roles in the formal organization in order to effectively perform assignments.

• Accountability is the state of being totally answerable for the satisfactory completion of a specific assignment. (Accountability = authority + responsibility.)

Authority and responsibility can be delegated (downward) to lower levels in the organization, whereas accountability usually rests with the individual. Accountability is the summation of authority and responsibility. Yet, many executives refuse to delegate and argue that an individual can have total accountability just through responsibility.

Even with these clearly definable divisions of authority, responsibility, and accountability, establishing good interface relationships between project and functional managers can take a great deal of time, especially during the conversion from a traditional to a project organizational form. Trust is the key to success here; it can overcome any problems in authority, responsibility, or accountability. When trust exists, the normal progression in the growth of the project-functional interface bond is as follows:

• Even though a problem exists, both the project and functional managers deny that any problem exists.

• When the problem finally surfaces, each manager blames the other.

• As trust develops, both managers readily admit responsibility for several of the problems.

• The project and functional managers meet face-to-face to work out the problem.

• The project and functional managers begin to formally and informally anticipate the problems that can occur.

For each of the organizational structures described in the following sections, advantages and disadvantages are listed. Many of the disadvantages stem from possible conflicts arising from problems in authority, responsibility, and accountability. The reader should identify these conflicts as such.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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