I’ve written before that there are, at times, too many cooks in the kitchen. In that article, I quantitatively show how the number of communication links grows exponentially as the number of team members grow. This state of affairs adds tremendous burden to a system, as well as confusion, diffusion of responsibility and, most troubling of all, a lack of accountability: when everyone is in charge, then nobody is in charge.
Here is another representation of complexity in organizations. This author 1 shows visually what decision making looks like:
The arrows ( A => B) means that “A seeks B” and this visualization of decision making in organizations was obtained through user interviews and observation. Other insights:
- There is strong triangle of input and feedback amongst Directors 2 and 3 and the General Manager. These strong, trusting ties have grown and solidified over many years of working together.
- Director 1 is new to the organization. Manager 12 was hoping to get this position, but Corporate strongly pushed for Director 1. Notice that Manager 12 is still locally influential in the decision-making network. Director 1 does not include input from direct reports in decision-making [ remember A –> B means that A seeks out B ] !
- Director 4 is about to retire. He used to run this division when it was much smaller. Unlike Director 1, Director 4 does include inputs from his staff.
- The decision-making patterns in the departments of Directors 2 and 3 are quite different from the pattern of links in the departments of Directors 1 and 4. Directors 2 and 3 seek information from all levels of the organization — their departments show both vertical and horizontal flows. Several managers in these departments [23, 24, 34, and 35] are boundary spanners — connecting to others outside of their immediate group.
- Departments 2 and 3 are an example of participatory decision-making — including inputs from up and down the hierarchy, as well as inside and outside the department.
Who do you see as the most influential person[s] in shaping decisions in this organization?
- http://www.orgnet.com/decisions.html ↩