Designing a Requisite Organization

The Benefits of Understanding this Concept:

  • You can determine how well the existing or proposed role structure provides for effective managerial leadership.
  • You can determine whether the existing or proposed role structure is sufficient to carry out your organization’s mission.
  • You can determine if there are extra layers present.
  • You can determine if there are layers missing.
  • You can determine if there are “holes” in the organization where work has the potential to “fall through the cracks”.
  • You can determine if you are expecting some roles to “cover” several layers of work.

PeopleFit® can help you assess the integrity of your organizational design, independent of the strength or placement of your talent pool, by comparing it to a proven standard model of effectiveness and efficiency, Requisite Organization.

The objective is to design a target organization that best suits the organization’s mission. That target organization will always reflect 100% requisiteness. Any deviation from 100% will decrease effectiveness as employees directly affected by the design flaw divert energy from their work at hand to compensating for the structural default. The higher up the organization chart the defect is, the greater the dysfunctional impact created due to a cascading effect.

Requisite model criteria

Requisite structure calls for every role to report to a role located in the next higher stratum. This is true except in two cases: with the CEO who reports to a board of directors or board of trustees and with personal assistants who support managers more than one level higher. When this is the case, an organization is considered to be 100% requisite.

Prior to looking at role placement examples, a brief context discussion regarding stratum level and types of work is necessary.

Stratum Level and Types of Work

We all know that some work is more complex than other work. Most of us perceive this intuitively but not in terms that we can articulate, consistently apply, or measure.

A way to distinguish and classify types of work based on their level of complexity exists and is found within Jaques’ Requisite Organization model. It provides a universal means and scale for understanding not only what makes one job more complex than another but also to what extent.

Just as H2O is always H2O, but can be present in the form of ice, water, or steam based on temperature, work is work but can be present in various states based on its complexity level. We call these various “states” stratum. Each stratum is characterized by a distinct type of work.

Once we understand this, we can begin to talk about jobs (any job, from zookeeper to bank teller) in terms of these stratum levels. Stratum 1 work is the least complex, and stratum 8 represents CEO role within of the largest corporations.

Stratum 1 work consists solely of following predetermined procedures. The next strata, respectively, would require: completing a list of tasks; executing a sequential implementation; and then, balancing resources among multiple, competing projects.

Not all organizations have the same number of strata, larger organizations have more strata because their leadership work is more complex. Competing in a global market is more complex than running a Mom and Pop operation in a small town.

To design the most effective organization, a role falling into any given stratum should report to a role in the next higher stratum which calls for a more complex type of work. Within a reporting chain, only one role should fall into each stratum. When two roles fall into the same stratum, the roles should constitute a peer relationship not a manager/direct report relationship.

In each functional area (HR, IT, Sales), there is a highest level of work and a lowest level of work necessary to carry out functional
objectives. These levels, expressed in terms of stratum, can be determined using task analysis and time span measurement techniques. Not all functions have roles that span the organization’s highest and lowest stratum levels. However, once a function’s upper and lower stratum limits are determined, organizations should ensure that there is one role located in each intervening layer, because there is always
work within each layer from the lowest to highest in a given function.

For example, if the highest level of work in a particular selling function is at stratum 4 and the lowest in that same function is at stratum 2, there will always be work at stratum 3, the intervening layer.

This principle is true in all cases except that administrative support may be appropriate at a lower level work than the function itself. For example, the lowest level of strategic planning work may be stratum 4, yet administrative support at stratum 2 and/or 1 is sometimes
appropriate for that stratum 4 function

Analysis Measures used.

PeopleFit uses ratio or percent measures in quantifying the degree of requisiteness in a given organization. Ratio measures allow us to track changes over time independent of changes in the size of the organization and also compare measures among different organizations for benchmarking purposes.

Roles Requisite = The manager’s role is in next higher stratum than the subordinate.

Role Relationship % Requisite = (Number of roles with manager’s role in next higher stratum / Total number of roles with data available)

Roles Too Close = The manager’s role is in same stratum as the subordinate.

Role Too Close % = (Number of roles with manager’s role in same stratum / Total number of roles with data available)

Roles Too Far = The manager’s role is more than a stratum higher than the subordinate.

Role Too Far % = Number of roles with manager’s role more than a stratum higher / Total number of roles with data available)

The following images represent the three possible role-to-role measures.

When roles are placed requisitely, an organization stands the greatest chance for functioning effectively. When they are too close or too far, dysfunction is inevitable. Much of this dysfunction masquerades as “personality issues”. Fixing the structure can make many of these supposed personality clashes disappear.

When roles are too close, both the manager and direct report are likely operating at the same level of comfort with complexity and both process information the same way. When this is the case, the manager cannot build a context for the subordinate that goes beyond the thinking of the subordinate. Therefore, the manager does not add value to the subordinate’s work, which is frustrating for the subordinate. The subordinate will invariably make inquiries to which the manager cannot satisfactorily respond. In response, the subordinate may look to his manager’s manager for leadership.

This can lead the manager to view the subordinate as a threat. In extreme situations, the manager may seek to remove the threat, resulting in the loss of an effective person to the organization.

When roles are too far and a layer is missing, communication will suffer. The subordinate will experience the situation as insufficient direction or detail in directions given by the manager. The manager, on the other hand, will feel that the subordinate is slow and wanting too much hand-holding. Because the direct report will be incapable of handling the work in the stratum above him, the manager will be forced to cover the work that falls in the layer separating them. This will leave the manager with less time to do the work appropriate to his or her stratum level and some form of coping method will need to be applied by the manager, i.e. not doing the higher level work, ignoring the lower level work, or working 80 hours a week to cover both.

Many organizations, not understanding that a scientific standard of effective design exists, leave organization design to default. This leads to serious dysfunction that is easy to spot and completely avoidable. At PeopleFit, we can help you design an organization that fosters efficiency and effectiveness.

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