How organisational context can facilitate and constrain

I’ve just completed an activity which involved looking at the ways organisational context can facilitate or constrain people’s actions within it.

This involved looking at a problem solving activity, and answered a series of questions about how it came about, who else was involved, what the main issues were, the key activities that took place, the rewarding aspects, and the frustrating aspects.

I also looked at how the organisational context was reflected in the problem itself, and was quite surprised to find out that two virtually mirrored each other – with the organisational context strongly influencing the approach to solving the problem, involving key stakeholders from the organisational structure.

So what have I learnt?

There are some positive aspects to the organisational context within which I work:

  • The organisational context positively influences the approach to solving the problem.
  • Key stakeholders are clearly identifiable from the organisational structure.
  • Decisions are always made by people who have authority to make them. (Also a negative!)

There are also some negative aspects:

  • People are reluctant to make decisions unless they have the authority.
  • Frequently encounter systemic frustrations related to constraining business processes.
  • Individual frustrations due to compartmentalised thinking in some departments.

Some things clearly need to change:

  • A more formalised estimating and planning process needs to be introduced at the early initiation stages of a project.
  • Project deliverables need to be baselined and a formal change control process followed  for any changes required after the baseline.
  • Everyone needs to be given sufficient autonomy to do their job and prioritise their work.
  • Business processes should be reviewed to identify areas which hold up progress.
  • Compartmentalised thinking should be eradicated and boundaries between departments reduced, if not removed altogether.

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