Critical Behaviours and Whole Brain Organisational Restructuring©
13 July, 2015
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When business leaders realise their companies became dysfunctional monsters they follow the path of the least resistance by embarking on a restructuring exercise. Although painful and awkward, once the new structures were introduced performance picks up and one can even detect a spirit of optimism. This unfortunately will not last, as people adjust to the new structure the old culture that created the monster or bureaucratic mindset will surface again. Restructuring will not cure the organisation.
Business leaders default to introducing restructuring as a cure because it usually fits their thinking style. A better understanding of the basics of thinking styles will put everything into perspective.
Definitions and Interpretations
- Restructuring represents left-brain-thinking. More specific “bottom left” or “green quadrant” as Nedd Herrmann the father of the concept “Whole Brain Thinking®” would explain it. This part of the brain gives attention to the following: step-by-step actions, consistency, structures, rule and regulations, etc.
- Organisational Culture represents Right Brain Thinking, more specifically bottom right quadrant or red quadrant according to the HBDI™. The following actions remind us of thinking that originates from this quadrant: feelings, empathy, team work, positive attitude, etc.
- Critical Behaviours is a behavioural pattern that requires the most attention and mindfulness to optimize organizational culture. This construct clearly represents Red quadrant thinking.
- Strategy on the other hand represents Right Brain Thinking and more specifically; the top right hand quadrant or yellow quadrant. This quadrant represents actions like: visioning, “big picture”, breaking rules, think out of the box, being creative, etc.
Peter Drucker said that culture eats strategy for breakfast and if strategy is for breakfast then your structure is for lunch. Organisations regularly embark on restructuring with the hope that it will change organizational culture.
Although structure follows strategy, culture decides the outcome and ultimately the future.
- Culture will overcome any structural chart or any reorganization; do not try to change culture by reorganizing structure
- Companies fail because they believe that a restructure will change the culture of the company.
- Even if a restructure creates temporary success, culture will reassert itself.
- Often senior managers ignore organisational culture because it works for them (bureaucracy, organizational politics, control)
- Culture cannot be fixed by simply fixing mistakes. Culture is what creates the mistakes and it will always remain no matter the organisational chart or the structure chart.
- One of the main reasons why senior managers pursue restructures is that they believe that structure determines culture
- Learning creates the link between culture and structure
- A matrix-type organization learns quicker because they operate in teams
- Teams explore their needs and change accordingly
- Hierarchical organizations are bound by structure and introduce restructuring in the hope that learning and change will happen
- Successful organizations understand that teams are successful not because of structure but because of an effective culture
- Dysfunctional organizations restructure as a conscious strategy to avoid dealing with organizational culture; because structure is concrete and easier to manage.
- Structural problems reflect cultural problems
- It is difficult for left brained (blue and green quadrants) organizations to talk about culture (right brain: red and yellow quadrants);(identity, engagement, values, customer relations)
- Culture creates an engaged employee, willing to do more for the company
“In truly dysfunctional organisations, the Chief Executive or senior managers make their peace with the organisation and begin the slow, but certain, process of becoming institutionalised. “It’s not perfect but we are getting improvement so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. When that occurs, especially after a restructure, the organisation has exhaled. It can now breathe again after the uncertainty of the restructure. The senior managers reach a new equilibrium and a culture change is avoided. The senior managers settle for what is working and do not seek to push the organisation to improve. They stop asking the questions about the culture, challenging the myths that hold the company back and just look happy to get along with the organisation.”
(Thoughts on Management, 2013. Read Full article)
Aligning Critical Behaviours with Culture starts with conversations about how things are done. Managers have to look at the anticipated culture and be ready to respond by discovering how the organisational structure can support this. The process of identifying critical behaviours does not exclude talking about negative behaviours. The underlying theme should be future focused: “Fuelling for the future”
Leaders act as architects of culture by understanding the dreams their direct reports have for their own career paths and their contribution to the legacy of the company. Culture starts with the leader of every team, department, business unit or division.
When you are faced with your next restructuring initiative, ask yourself, if you aren’t perhaps avoiding dealing with culture (red quadrant)?
Contact TBi to find out more or request a quote.
Critical Behaviours and Whole Brain Organisational©
By Dr. Chris Heunis