How Do We Shape It?

Do I opt for an open office structure with functional teams, fluid organizational environment, functional structure, or a hierarchic structure? Which one would work for the organization? Do I even need to think about this?

If you have a young venture, which consists of friends and a few people, organizational structure is probably the last thing you would be thinking about. The general assumption in such cases would be—we have a small working group, everyone is indispensable, they are aware of their role and responsibilities, so I don’t really need to think of an organizational structure.

One of the reasons why people do not like to create an organizational structure is because most assume organizational structure to be hierarchic. However, organizational structures not just dictates roles and responsibilities, it also helps ensure that the people in the organization are in line with the strategy and goals of the organization.

Ojaswi Baidya,who is a co-ordinator at Sattya Inc, a resource centre for artist, filmmakers, photographer, activist and creative people in Nepal, believes that it’s important to have a formal organizational structure in place before a company grows, so that your workforce does not become unwieldy.

The first important thing a young venture has to know regarding organizational structure is that, there should be clarity and transparency regarding roles and responsibilities. A clear idea of the organization and its work is important to ensure that each person involved in the venture are in line with the strategy and goals of the organizations, and that they are all projecting the same message to the outsiders.

The next step after clarity is to assess the strength of the team dynamics and ways to structure it. It helps in identifying the main teams and creates job description for potential work staffs you would need when you expand. Himal Gautam, the executive director of Think Fusion, a constancy that works in the area of Education, Technology and Consulting ( ETC), shares this views: “it is important to assess the specific dynamics of your organization and its work interest in order to define a structure.”

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities help in coordinating work assignment and ensure work efficiency. According to Prabhat Shrestha, a director at LEAD International, consultant group for profit and non-profit organizations,“If members are unaware of their roles and responsibilities, and their reporting lines, decision making authority can go haywire and accountability can become a big issue.”

After achieving clarity, transparency and identifying strengths, the next step would be to decide the type of organizational structure you think would work for your venture.

How do I decide on the organizational Structure?
The growth of startups always leads to evolving roles and responsibilities. Startups have a fluid structure that changes as per the need of the organization. And the kind of organizational structure should accommodate such changes. The types of organizational structures, from the flat to the vertical ones, what kind of organizational structure you decide for your venture depends on the kind of work you do and your company’s goals. Here are a few experiences shared by existing ventures:

Think Fusion’s organizational structure was inspired by the Open Business Model that places emphasis on transparency, stakeholder inclusion and accountability and a work project. Instead of department or sections they have “projects in operation” where in collaboration of various individuals operate as an independent company. But they do have four main categories that are important to each of their project with members assigned to particular tasks. Each project is different and project members are given the right to define their working style for the particular project. It especially focuses on having no titles and where everyone is equal, but the members should know their assigned duties. 

LEAD International started out as small team where roles and responsibilities were based on individual’s capabilities and skills. But as the organization grew, they increased formal structures placed organically as per their need. It has now taken a more hierarchal and role-based structure reducing the managerial responsibility over one person and creating windows of growth for every team member.

Sattya Inc also opted for a non-hierarchal structure because Sattya’s work involves bringing forth creative people from different fields to work on the development of one particular field, which needs to have a non-restrictive working environment. The non-hierarchal structure has helped them develop as a family, being like minded individuals.

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