Book Reviews: Organization Design

The Boundaryless Organization: Breaking the Chains of Organizational Structure, by Ron Ashkenasm Dave Ulrich, Todd Jick and Steve Kerr Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
This revised and updated edition discusses the paradigm shift from traditional pyramid organizations to organizations that feature permeable boundaries. The book demonstrates how boundaryless organizations can increase the ability to respond quickly, creatively, flexibly and in an integrated fashion to market demands. Case studies of change efforts bring the main points alive. Adding to the value of this work are self-diagnostic instruments, charts, and tables. This book is a rich source of insights about organization plus savvy guidelines for taking action. 364 pp. 2002.

Business Process Mapping: Improving Customer Satisfaction, by J. Mike Jacka and Paulette J. Keller. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Business mapping is a tool to help analyze a process or organization. The book shows how it works and serves as part of the approach to overall analysis. It shows how to drill down into processes and reveals how one process relates to others. The authors discuss the mapping process in detail, delving into methodology and techniques, and providing examples. Recommended. 300 pp. 2002.

Business Without Boundaries: An Action Framework for Collaborating Across Time, Distance, Organization, and Culture, by Don Mankin and Susan G. Cohen. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Business is conducted across all types of boundaries through collaborative strategies and arrangements. These collaborative enterprises can be extremely complex. This book explores what these collaborations look like, the challenges they face, and how to make them work. Based on analysis of three case studies, the authors present an action framework to guide executives in building such collaborations. The challenge is to manage complexity so that it enhances and energizes the collaboration instead of destroying it. Success hinges upon the people and the nature and quality of their interrelationships and interactions, the key to which is structure: well-defined roles, expectations, responsibilities, decision-making processes, and the like; structure offers a zone of stability within which complex collaborations can develop. Three-quarters of the book present and analyze the cases, offing many insights. The action framework is formally presented in the last two chapters. 224 pp. 2004.

Confessions of a Civil Servant: Lessons in Changing America's Government and Military, by Bob Stone. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.
Stone started a quality revolution at the Pentagon, and later formed and led Al Gore's campaign to reinvent government. This book is his personal account of both the bureaucracy and the greatness he encountered, and how leaders can move their organizations from one to the other. The methods (decentralization, deregulation, and devolution of authority in a value-centered organization) are applicable to all large enterprises, governmental and nongovernmental alike. This insider's story on efforts to streamline the military and government presents 14 over-arching themes and many specific lessons, conveyed through engrossing stories of what he saw and was involved in. The book is highly entertaining, and provides solid insights into organizational change and resistance to it. 192 pp. 2002.

Designing Dynamic Organizations: A Hands-On Guide for Leaders at All Levels, by Jay Galbraith.Diane Downey.and Amy Kates. AMACOM.
The book approaches organization design holistically. It features numerous tools and cases. The seven key chapters cover: providing an overview of the design process and how to involve people; assessing the current organization, and identifying change goals and priorities; choosing structures and defining roles; building horizontal connections; considering new trends in performance management, metrics, and compensation and reward practices; designing HR systems; and providing guidance for implementation. Key roles in the process are explained. The books serves as a how-to guide for change and a catalyst for discussing the deeper organizational transformation issues. Highly recommended. 286 pp. 2001.

Designing Effective Organizations: How to Create Structured Networks, by Michael Goold and Andrew Campbell. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
The aim of the authors is to provide a rigorous framework for selecting between alternative designs and to help managers design a structured network organization that is market-like in much of their behavior, but which guided by sufficient structure to create more value than markets. Their approach provides three elements: nine tests of a good design; a language in the form of a taxonomy of different kinds of unit roles and relationships; and a process providing a practical approach to organization design. Considerable research and experience underlie the book's content. The writing reflects sharp, analytical thinking, presented in a highly accessible style. Of the few really good books on organization design, this book is clearly one of them! 356 pp. 2002.

Designing Organizations: An Executive Briefing on Strategy, Structure, and Process, by Jay R. Galbraith. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
A distillation of design concepts, bringing together both old standbys and the latest ideas, focusing on structures and processes at the heart of organizational design. Concepts discussed include a new hybrid model that brings together markets and customers with products and services. Offers guidelines for managers. This book is a classic; highly recommended. 170 pp. 2001.

The European Corporation: Strategy, Structure and Social Science, by Richard Whittington and Michael Mayer. Oxford University Press, Inc.
Traces the evolution of organization design among the largest corporations in France, Germany, and the UK over nearly 50 years and uses this perspective to examine changing management theory and the underlying trends in strategy and structure. The authors tackle questions about economic performance, international integration, and the proper scope of the social sciences. The book focuses on the model of Alfred Chandler. An excellent historical analysis. 271 pp. 2002.

The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations, by Rob Cross and Andrew Parker. Harvard Business School Press.
This book is about how employees actually interact through networks to get work done, how such social networks function, how to analyze these networks, and ways to build and strengthen them. The major focus is on information flow and collaboration. The authors have found that a pragmatic approach to analyzing and developing networks need not be highly complex. Their focus is on improving organizational performance by both understanding and promoting vibrant networks. The book concentrates on the factors that make a network effective and on how, in practice, managers can foster the potential of a social network within and between units of organization. The discussion of factors that infuse energy into a network is excellent. So too are sections on the elements used to promote network connectivity and the six steps for conducting a social network analysis, including example questions. Based on real-world experiences, the book is outstanding in revealing a crucial dimension of organizational effectiveness. 226 pp. 2004.

How Organizations Work : Taking a Holistic Approach to Enterprise Health, by Alan P. Brache. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Using a model of an enterprise, this book is a guide for exploring key aspects of organization, revealing how they are interrelated and focusing on: the external environment; leadership; strategy; business processes; goals and measurement; human capabilities; knowledge management; organizational structure; culture. There are self-assessment questions throughout the book and numerous guidelines for diagnosing and designing a healthy organizational. Illustrations are used to flesh-out the diagnostic process. The work is virtually a how-to guide; it is well organized, comprehensive, and highly useful. 225 pp. 2002.

Managing Projects in Organizations: How to Make the Best use of Time, Techniques, and People , by J. Davidson Frame. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
Frame examines: projects in their organizational context; project management; project team structure, effectiveness and efficiency; needs and requirements analysis; and planning and control. Guidelines, insights and tools and techniques are presented in abundance. The book treats each major topic in considerable depth and is comprehensive in scope. Highly recommended. 258 pp. 2003.

Organizations in Action: Social Science Basis of Administrative Theory, by James D. Thompson Transaction Publishers.
This classic, pioneering work is the cornerstone of contingency theory of organizations or the open-systems approach. The book is grounded in the behavioral sciences. It is filled with penetrating insights and provides an over-arching framework for understanding the design and action of complex organization in the context of an uncertain environment. The work is multidisciplinary and offers 95 propositions about organizational behavior. It is enormously rich in content and a 'must-read' for anyone involved in organization planning and design. 192 pp. 2003.

Resizing the Organization: Managing Layoffs, Divestitures, and Closings , by Kenneth P. De Meuse and Mitchell Lee Marks, editors. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
This is a collection of excellent essays providing useful insights, tools, guidelines and principles about organizational change. Some topics covered are: personal accounts of the closure of a major business entity and layoffs in the world; continuously right-sizing a political campaign organization; the effects of resizing on the psychological contract; the financial consequences of employment-change decisions; response of customers and competitors to resizing; planning for resizing; revitalizing after resizing; and resizing organizations and employees. Filled with thoughtful contributions. 401 pp. 2003.

Work Naked: Eight Essential Principles for Peak Performance in the Virtual Workplace, by Cynthia C. Froggatt. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
Explores the variety of remote and mobile work styles and arrangements and the numerous obstacles to breaking away from tradition time and place workplace environments. The author champions approaches to providing workers with freedom and autonomy to shape their work lives and offers an array of potential payoffs to both the business and the person. The chapters of the book, primarily, are devoted to exploring the resistance to implementing novel work style approaches and shows how to implement eight Naked Work principles: initiative; trust; joy; individuality; equality; dialogue; connectivity; and workplace options. Includes a list of resources for further study and action. An excellent book on telecommuting, telework and other variations on alternative worklife styles. Many references to company practices. Recommended. 270 pp. 2001.