Form versus Function: That is the Question!

July 26, 2019

There are no universal models to organizational drawing. Leaderships act in the procedural aspects and influence the tacit aspects in operational and legal requirements function of the business, competitive strategic and dynamics lines of direction. In this context, the organizational culture is, at the same time, cause and consequence.

In any way, judging by my experience related to the organizational drawings, I can share some “golden rules” common to the process:

The organizational structure does not have to be the initial priority

The structure follows the logical process of the organizational drawing, and not the contrary. The usual hurry of the managers in distributing people in boxes creates a dangerous temporary vacuum due to the absence of other elements that compose the model.

Only the horizontal and vertical balance optimizes tacit and procedural aspects

The dualities “autonomy versus control” and “span of control versus layers” need to be balanced to assure the implementation of procedural and tacit aspects.

Effectiveness is not referred itself to efficiency; Long term does not refer itself to short term

Activities measured by effectiveness (marketing) do not refer themselves to the efficiency structures (operations). Long term (R&D) does not refer itself to short term (selling).

Original minimalist surpasses any trustworth copy of the great masters

References and best practices are useful to increase repertory, but the design of each company is unique as answers to exclusive ambitions, dynamics and requirements.

Draw for the future, manage current transitions, do not fix the past.

The design change has to be already placed for future aspirations and ambitions, with transition risk management and with indifference to former models.

"Rules" are simple, but, at the same time, very difficult to be implemented.

Throughout the organizational evolution, in the great majority of the cases, design is neglected. Attachment to the well-succeeded models. Doubt in questioning the winning legacy. Weakness in disarticulating the established power networks.  Lack of interest in facing the journey.

Finally, there are many justifications to the evidenced reality: as cultures advance, its organizational drawings are not adequately fine, resulting in inappropriate structures and mechanisms of coordination, that strengthen incompatible procedural and tacit aspects with the new requirements, new aspirations, new dynamics. All of this compromises the capacity in solving external problems and assuring internal integration.


Daniel Motta is the Founder and CEO of BMI Blue Management Institute, a leading niche consulting firm. He is a global thought leader focused on culture, strategy and leadership. He has a PhD in Economics, MSc in Financial Economics and BA in Economics. He is also an OPMer from Harvard Business School. He is the Managing Director of USA-based VC company White Fox Capital and the Senior Tupinambá Maverick of bossa&etc. He was a co-founder of Brazilian Society of Finance. He currently serves NGO UNIBES as Strategic Planning Principal. He is the author of the best selling books Essential Leadership and book Anthesis. He also has three articles published by Harvard Business Review. He is a Board Member of MASP.