14th April 2016

Structure causes Behaviour

Structure causes behaviour and so if one wants to change the behaviour of an organisation one must change the structure. When a business owner or a business leader complains about his leadership team not taking ownership and accountability for certain things that prompts me first and foremost to look at the structure.

My first question is often who in the structure is ultimately accountable for the area in question? Does the structure clearly spell out where the accountability lies? And when I say clearly I mean are there incontrovertible metrics that will show whether the task has been successfully completed; an ROI of x% or an increase in y of z%, for example?

Often accountability is vague when it could be specific. Often measurements are fuzzy when they could be clear. If we have a structure that includes sales but not marketing then the behaviour will typically be short term focussed. If we have a sales and marketing function the short-term sales function will usually dominate the less immediate marketing function. Structure drives behaviour.

A structure that doesn’t regularly hold people to account will promote a lack of accountability. A structure that operates on an annual accountability rhythm will be one that displays a yearly cycle of prolonged inactivity followed by a couple of months of intense activity purely to meet the annual accountability rhythm. A monthly rhythm will drive much more consistent behaviour and a weekly rhythm yet more consistent behaviour.

In “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” Verne Harnish likened the meeting rhythm of a business to the heartbeat of that business. The more regularly it pulses the healthier is becomes.

The meeting rhythm is part of the management and governance structure which drives management and governance behaviour. The more effective that management structure, the more it will positively enhance the behaviours to be found within the business. The more productive the behaviours, the better the business. It is really that simple.