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The Critical Role of Organisational Structure in Effective Decision Making


What happens when you sit twelve owner-managers, in a hierarchical fashion, in a room, separated by screens, don’t allow them to talk to one another and task them with solving a puzzle that they all hold part of the answer to?

Well, let’s see

As part of the BIG Network session on The Foundations of Success in Working Together we raised the question: how should we design our organisations? To explore this question we structured an exercise that enabled participants to experience, and explore the role structure plays in creating organisational environments where people can work well together and achieve success.

Setting up the exercise

The exercise [1] was simple enough; the participants could only communicate by written messages, and the leaders were given a task which required collaboration, throughout the whole system, for a solution to be found.

Two groups (i.e. organisations) of five people were split into three role areas that would be typically found in an organisation:

  • Leader (x1)
  • Middle Manager (x1)
  • Employees (x3)

And we also had two observers, and two messengers to deliver the written communications.

Interestingly, the two groups approached the set-up of the activity differently, with one consulting how to apportion roles, and the other choosing a more individualised, ad hoc approach.

What happened – an overview of individual and systemic response