How Did Organizations Evolve

Why do we have organizations in the first place? Aren't they al I the same? No. Organizations go back thousands of years. Obviously, some form of organization was needed to build the pyramids in Egypt and Central America. Family and military needs drove other types. Families usually had a household leader, who coordinated the agricultural work necessary to survive. Military rank-and-file organizations were developed to attack and defend. These were the seeds of the organizational forms that we see around us today.

In the Agricultural Age, the concept of a "project" was not well formed. Most production took place on farms or in small villages. Trading, and often any necessary integration, was done in marketplaces. Wth the invention of the steam engine, the Industrial Age dawned, and large machines began to dominate the production scene. This meant that workers no longer could stay on the farms, but had to collect at large places called factories to produce products. A managerial structure was needed to control the activities of these largely uneducated workers. The most readily available structure was the military's, with its hierarchical chain of command. Indeed, much of our current organizational thinking is hierarchical, derived from military structures (CEOs are like generals, VPs are like colonels, division heads are like majors, department heads are like captains, etc.). This may be why people at the lowest parts of an organization are often called the "troops."

Much of our current corporate structure comes from the heritage of Henri Fayol (1841-1925), a French mining engineer at theComambault Co. in the late 1800s, and a German named Max Weber (pronounced vay-bur), among others. Weber (1864-1920) is considered "The Father of Bureaucracy." In fact, bureaucracy is derived from the German word for "management by the office" (as opposed to "by the person," which is patrimonial management), and it did not originally have the bad connotation we give it today. Fayol is credited with invention of many of the organizing ideas that we call the "principles of management." Fayol and Weber's "principles of management" are characterized as:

Division of work; Centralization; Authority; Discipline;

Hierarchical structure;

• Functionally oriented; ® Silos of specialty;

• Decision and promotion path that is vertical within a silo, with project activities divided by specialties and disciplines.

Organizing around these principles is why we typically have all the marketing people in the marketing department, the engineering people in the engineering department, and so on. At the turn of the century, most workers were illiterate, so all decisions in a specialty had to be made by management at ever-higher echelons and then passed down to the "troops" at the bottom, who were merely considered "cogs" in the machinery. This was okay because the world didn't change at Internet speed yet, and the troops really didn't have enough education to make very big decisions.

Around the turn of the 19th Century, a mechanical engineer named Fredrick Taylor began what came to be known as the scientific management approach. This was all about efficiency experts and time and motion studies. He spawned a number of disciples, such as Frank and Lillian Gilbreth of Cheaper by the Dozen fame, and Henry L. Gantt, who gave us the now famous Gantt chart. Later, their ideas of workers as "cogs" gave way to the concepts of productivity achieved through employee satisfaction and empowerment that we know of today. As the education level of the average worker grew, the need for hierarchical management faded, and, in the face of cost and poor-quality pressures in the 1980s, gave way to flatter organizations with fewer managers and less direct command and control. Instead, empowered teams emerged to make decisions at a lower level in the organization, across functional department boundaries. The matrix approach to management that emerged in the 1960s (explained later in this chapter) using cross-functional teams from the 1980s has become the most prevalent form of organization seen in project work today.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

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Responses

  • alexa fraser
    How organizations evolve?
    22 days ago

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