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Discussion Topic 2 Prompts

Prompt 1: What did you learn about organizations, and/or the behavior of
individuals within an organization? How do the ideas presented in Part Two (the
Structural Frame) of the B&D textbook enrich your understanding of the ways in
which organizations and the people working in them function?

The overall insight I gained from these chapters is that structure and organization
are key. Bolman and Deal (2017) emphasize that “the right combination of goals, roles,
relationships, and coordination is essential to organizational performance” (p. 47). Thus,
an organization must develop a structure. Developing a structure provides a framework
in which an organization will function according to their strategic goals; it is a “blueprint
for exchanges between internal and external players (Bolman and Deal, 2017, p. 51).
Leaders in an organization must be able to assess and evaluate a wealth of
organizational aspects in order to successfully establish a structure. Equally as
importantly, they must also respond to changes in the organization and restructure
when necessary. The ability, or lack of ability, to be able to do this can result in the
misdirection of energy and resources (Bolman and Deal, 2017, p. 69).

Understanding that structures are a result of considering a vast array of


variables, I have come to understand that we are really just part of a larger working
machine. Each part of the machine works together to complete the common goal. While
there can be flexibility, overall each part of the machine is functioning within their role
and within a certain space which is the result of a created structure.

Prompt 2: How can you apply the concepts that you have learned about in the
readings to your personal or organizational life? Be specific.

Because creating a structure requires evaluating so many different aspects of an


organization, it provides a detailed, all-encompassing plan that hardly overlooks any
facet of an organization. It considers all goals, strategies, technology, people, and the
environment of an organization and creates a plan that works for collective purposes
(Bolmand & Deal, 2017, p. 69).
Using the concept of a structure can be useful in planning both in my
professional and personal life. Evaluating the different aspects of my life and my
workplace can provide an overall picture of how I need to structure things. With such a
busy schedule, considering my goals, strategies, people that affect my day-to-day
planning, and the environment when trying to manage my time could help me to more
efficiently use my energy and resources (Bolman & Deal, 2017).

In the workplace allocating and energy and resources is vital, especially in a fast-
paced retail environment like Starbucks. Evaluating the many moving variables within
the environment is crucial to the success of any shift. Considering how to allocate the
resources and energy of your store can make or break whether or not you meet your
goals for the day. Therefore, developing a structure that responds to the needs and
goals of the store can enhance the overall daily performance.

Prompt 3: What are the “structural imperatives” identified by Bolman and Deal?
In other words, what is the universal set of internal and external parameters that
organizations need to respond to when choosing its structure? How does
structure influence what happens in the workplace?

The structural imperatives identified by Bolman and Deal (2017) are the internal
and external parameters that must be considered when developing structural
architecture (p. 64). They are: size and age, core process, environment, strategy and
goals, technology, and nature of the workforce (Bolman & Deal, 2017, p. 64). These
aspects are crucial to consider when developing social architecture because each
organization has different needs that must be met through structure (Bolman and Deal,
2017). Developing an appropriate structure for the needs of an organization will help it
to function more effectively. Effective structures will ensure the proper use of energy
and resources.

Prompt 4: In Chapter Four, Bolman and Deal describe eight basic structural
dilemmas that organizations face when searching for an appropriate structure.
Consider an organization in your life (perhaps your family, or any other
organization with which you are familiar). Make some connections / discuss this
organization in light of at least a few of these structural tensions.
My work experience with Starbucks provides some great examples of structural
dilemmas in the workplace.

Goal-less vs. Goal-bound:

At the first Starbucks I worked at, I hardly knew what our goals were. I had no
idea we had daily goals, drive-through time goals, food sale goals, customer transaction
goals, and so on. I did not feel connected to our goals or our store. My manager would
tell me to upsell a food item to every customer, but I had no drive to follow through
because I did not understand that it was to help meet certain goals.

I now work at a store that is very goal driven. Our goals are written every morning
on a full-body mirror where our baristas “check-in” before they come on the floor; they
are written and organized in a book on the front counter for everyone to see, and they
are “recaptured” in a newsletter every Monday for us to see how we did. Our manager
and shift team is always talking about our store goals, making us aware of them, and
encouraging us to be a part reaching of them. My team and I feel much more inspired to
be involved in meeting goals because we are included in results process.

Gap vs. Overlap

In daily life at Starbucks there are several, several, tasks to be completed daily. If
a barista is assigned to a role or a task in the store, it is crucial that they transition, or
communicate with their fellow barista about where they left off, before they leave their
task or position to someone else. Transitioning helps provide clear instruction for tasks
and roles in order to avoid gaps or overlap in the work that needs to be done.
Transitioning is a rule at our store and each barista knows that it is necessary when
handing a task or role off to someone else.

Prompt 5: Throughout your progression in the Organizational Leadership


program, you have had a number of courses that include content that could be
viewed through the structural frame. Please highlight what you would consider
to be two of the most important things (ideas, concepts, theories, models,
processes, skills, etc.) that you have learned in previous coursework that you can
relate to the structural frame. Briefly discuss each key learning, the course where
you learned it, and its connection with the structural frame.
Being able to read and respond to situations with a flexible, open mind is a trend
that has stuck out to me in my OGL classes.

Something that was emphasized in my OGL 321 Project Management class was
top-down management. We discussed quite often how top-down management goals
might not always align with what can realistically be completed by a team, and how that
can create stress and tension. Bolman & Deal (2017) mention that while “top-down
control tends to work well for simple, stable tasks, as work becomes more complex…the
structure must also develop more multifaceted and lateral forms of communication and
coordination” (p. 111). Bolman & Deal talk often in this text about needing to read the
environment and variables of an organization in order to develop an effective structure.
And while it may work sometimes, top-down management is obviously not always the
answer.

One of my favorite concepts that I’ve learned about so far is something called
“floating”. I learned about it in one of my early OGL classes from a book called “The
Case of the Missing Cutlery” by Kevin Allen. Floating in management is the idea that a
manager will “float to success” because the team they work with believes that they
should. The short, true, story talks about an airline in the 1960’s who silver cutlery was
going missing. Kevin Allen was assigned to figure out what was going on before an
important visitor arrived. He found out that the cutlery was not missing, but being hidden
by the kitchen staff because it was becoming tarnished somehow. However, by building
relationships and enforcing a more lateral structure with his team (or, allowing his team
to try different methods as they saw fit in order to repair the cutlery), he was able to
achieve success quickly and efficiently. He was able to evaluate the different variables
of the situation and apply the necessary structure to maximize the use of energy and
resources with his team.
Frame or Reframe an Organization from a Structural Perspective

Prompt 6: How has structure impacted the culture and outcomes (for customers,
employees, stockholders, surrounding community and/or any other stake-
holders) in an organization with which you are affiliated? Describe enough of the
situation concretely to provide context and use concepts from the readings in
your response. If you don’t think structure has any influence, think again more
carefully and perhaps revisit the readings / Learning Module content to broaden
your definition and understanding.

Within the Starbucks work environment there is some lateral structure: each
barista, supervisor and manager is encouraged to express their own style and creativity
in completing their work. Each store that you visit will have different “vibe”. This is the
result of the lateral, or a more flexible (Bolman & Deal, 2017, p. 58), portion of the
Starbucks structure. However, for the most part Starbucks is run internally on a very
rigid vertical structure in which there are strict rules, systems, and policies in place
(Bomand & Deal, 2017, p. 55-57). There are very strict systems for how to deploy
people in certain roles during certain parts of the day. While the dress code is fairly
flexible, it is mandatory that baristas stay within the guidelines. There are strict
procedures for handling returns, and exchanges. There are formal guidelines for cash
handling, inventory orders, and inventory counts. And there are very clear, and very firm
guidelines for customer service. So while there are liberties that may be taken in certain
things at Starbucks, overall the vertical structure helps keep tings organized and
running like a well-oiled machine. Because Starbucks is such a large company, it is vital
for them to have consistent structure throughout their organization, especially to achieve
unity in the locations across the globe.