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Leader as Organizational Architect, Part 1


It’s impossible for an organization to orchestrate the actions of each individual, as the situation “on the ground” changes monthly, weekly or even hourly. Impossible, and not even desirable. The organization’s supervisors and front-line workers want and need to make their own decisions in ways that they interpret to be best for the organization. To create alignment, leaders need to play a role as the organizational architect.

So how do you, as a leader in the organization, ensure that those thousands of micro-decisions, taken as a whole, move the organization in the right direction? You make sure your systems, structures, processes and culture are all in alignment. They all support your strategic intent. When they do, something beautiful happens, which we’ll talk about in the next post.

For this post, let’s talk about misalignment. Misalignment is often easier to recognize, in part because, unfortunately, it’s far more common than alignment.

Misaligned Organizational Architecture Slows Execution

As competitive strategy evolves at an ever-faster pace in response to faster-changing business environments, organizations often find their systems, structures, processes and culture aligned to an old, out-of-date strategy. Those systems, structures, processes and culture are the “nature” of the organization. As our good friend and colleague, Rick Tate, once said, “Nature bats last.”