The development and preservation of Humanity on the planet Earth has been a consequence on the ability to achieve individual and collective goals through organization and collective action. The vast majority of human needs cannot be fulfilled by a single human being.
Therefore, it is required to align energy and human knowledge in organizations, which could be understood as working systems that put together resources and human will to achieve a set of objectives. Some kind of organization was needed within a tribe of hunter – gatherers of the Paleolithic when hunting, and some organization is also required to keep a national highway system in suitable conditions. Organizations, therefore, are a human and a social phenomenon that guarantees welfare and progress.
Organizations and their different ways of structuring themselves for getting outcomes have emerged spontaneously throughout the history of mankind. In parallel, science has focused on the manner to increase organization’s efficiency and effectiveness. Knowledge on organizations has been created by adding up new experiences about how to best achieve objectives in a structure that gathers human knowledge, resources and will. Hence derive different models and, especially, different approaches to governance and management of organizations. Some of the most popular models are:
The H. Mintzberg Model, which provides an overall approach of the structure and functions of the organization. Mintzberg’s proposal is based on the fact that every human activity aimed to be planned in an organized way has two requirements: the division of labor for a more effective and efficient production and the necessary coordination mechanisms between that division. From that point, Mintzberg defines five segmented labor coordination mechanisms, which vary depending on the complexity of the work carried out by the organization. In parallel, Mintzberg raises five basic parts that make up the organization: strategic apex, middle line, operating core, techno structure and support staff.
The Flat Organizational Model, committed to structures with little or no intermediate levels between the operational level and management level. Within this model, those holding the executive level have more people under their coordination and responsibility. However, those on the operational level gain in autonomy and responsibility, and they get more involved in the decision-making process than it is expected in organizations based in a more hierarchical structure.
Additionally, Organizations’ Theory has been traditionally affected by new collateral theoretical developments, like the General Systems Theory as developed by Ludwig Von Bertalanffy, the Theory of Complexity, business management or techniques like Strategic Planning.
A key question surrounding organizations theory is the study and implementation of change management. Here we can find a considerable amount of scientific literature on that topic, and the Kotter Model could be taken as a reference in this field. It includes 8 steps for change management and it is especially devoted to business organizations. However, all these developments in organizational theory come from the study of industrial organization and business schools, given the need to optimize production processes. By contrast, little has been theorized from the world of NGOs and the Non Profit Sector. This is a pending issue that someone should address.
The latest and most disruptive contribution in the field of organizations is Holacracy as formulated by Brian Robertson, a model in which non-profit organizations should feel more comfortable. Holacracy is rooted in feelings and emotions experienced by those involved in the organization daily job, emphasizing their active impact on organization management. The usual tensions that take place in the ordinary operation of an organization provoke emotions to people who work in, something that should be taken into account for change and improvement of the organization. Thus, the author proposes a system based on self-managed and autonomous units, without leaders or heads of units and departments. Holacracy redistributes authority and power of decision through governance. The responsibility to make decisions and execute them relies on the all members of the organization.
Is this model serious? What can be expected from that new paradigm? In any case, our advice to those interested on the functioning and outcomes of organizations is “take a break to add more value to your journey” through Holacracy.