Chronicle Journal: Finance

New business book from NDMA Publishing asks: Is There Really a Science to Organizational Structure?

New business book from NDMA Publishing asks: Is There Really a Science to Organizational Structure?

"Principle-based Organizational Structure" -clear guidelines on how to design organization charts that induce entrepreneurship, accountability, performance, and teamwork.

(PRUnderground) March 24th, 2017

“Structure is a science?  Structure is more fundamental than processes?  Than strategies?  Than even people?  Shared-services is not chargebacks?  Every manager is an entrepreneur?  Dotted lines/matrix/federated models Ä all wrong?  Wow, this book blew away the fads and ‘common wisdom’ (which turns out to be unwise), and opened my eyes to a completely new, refreshing, powerful, and pragmatic understanding of organizations.  A great read.  Great work.”  So says Chris S. Romano, a legal industry CIO, about Dean Meyer’s latest business book, Principle-based Organizational Structure.

This is Meyer’s eighth book, the culmination of over 30 years of study and practical experiences leading restructuring projects in dozens of companies, non-profit, and government organizations.

Unlike the myriad other books on organizational design, most of which come from a Human Resources perspective, Meyer treats structure as an engineering science.  “Look at any organization chart and see who’s fighting with whom, who’s not making objectives, and who has ulcers!” Meyer says.  The book lays out clear principles and frameworks, and gives executives practical guidance on how to design their own organizations.

The book goes beyond just organization charts.  As Meyer explains, “The more an organization lets people specialize, the better they perform.  But if organizations aren’t great at cross-boundary teamwork, they create ‘silo’ groups that are self-sufficient.  And that, of course, reduces specialization and performance.”

At this point, executives reading the book might say, “Ouch!”  Teamwork is a familiar problem.  Fortunately, Meyer goes on to explain how to build highly effective teamwork across structural boundaries – not by conventional teambuilding, but with a practical team-formation process.

Another key difference from traditional approaches is what Meyer calls “the business-within-a-business paradigm.”  Every job is designed as a small entrepreneurship within the overall business.  Among the many benefits is that managers at every level understand that they’re accountable for serving customers, within the organization and beyond.  And it’s up to them to keep their businesses competitive through cost savings, reliable delivery, quality, customer service, and innovation.

The book also deals with the challenges of change management, laying out a step-by-step process for restructuring.  Unlike many reorganizations where the top executive simply announces a new organization chart, Meyer’s process is open and participative, engaging leadership teams in designing and deploying their new structures.

The process begins with a “rainbow analysis,” in which leaders color-code their current organization chart based on the types of internal businesses under each of them.  This vivid exercise reveals missing functions (gaps), groups trying to be experts at too many different things (rainbows), internal lines of business that are scattered all over the organization, and jobs that focus staff on something other than what they’re supposed to be good at.

Principle-based Organizational Structure is a unique combination of vision, science, and pragmatic guidelines and processes.  35 stories and case studies throughout the book bring the principles to life.  And Meyer’s straightforward style and summaries at the end of each chapter make it an easy read.

Preston Simons, CIO of Aurora Health Care, said, “Frankly, after studying and applying these principles repeatedly, I can’t imagine why other executives would depend on their intuitions, or repeat the mistakes others have made under the guise of ‘best practices.’”

After reading this book, one has to grant that organizational structure is indeed a science – a practical science that can benefit most any executive.


PRINCIPLE-BASED ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE:  a handbook to help you engineer entrepreneurial thinking and teamwork into organizations of any size

ISBN:  1-892606-32-1
Price:  $28
Pages:  448
Publication date:  March 24, 2017

Images of book cover and author photos:

Contact for review copies, interviews, and excerpts:
Ray Terlaga, press and customer relations
NDMA Publishing, Danbury, CT

Author bio:

More on Principle-based Organizational Structure

Selected Endorsements:

“I’ve been part of the senior leadership of a variety of organizations — start­ups to large companies — and I never looked at organizational design as a science. This book makes tremendous sense to me. It’s profound, and at the same time, practical.”

Ulrich Pilz, Board Director, multiple companies

“Other books I’ve read on structure present lots of theories, but no clear guidance. This is breakthrough thinking, and yet Dean makes it so practical and accessible that is seems like common sense.”

Pat Beach, Director, Corporate IT, SRC Inc.

“This is the first book I’ve read on organizational structure that makes sense in the real world, hangs together, and comes with an instruction manual on how to implement change.”

Fred Dewey, CEO and Serial Entrepreneur

“Every executive, from the CEO down, will profit from the lessons Meyer lays out here.”

Richard Hunter, VP and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner

“This book gives me a transformational approach to redesigning my organization.”

Karan Powell, President, American Public University

“Market leadership depends on innovative growth strategies, translated into deployable growth initiatives, and an organization that can execute. Principle-based Organizational Structure lays out how to build that organization.”

Michael Treacy, best-selling author, The Discipline of Market Leaders

“I’ve applied these principles to my entire company, and it has been an engine for our growth.”

Sergio Paiz, CEO, PDC

“This book systematically transforms the mystique of organizational design into an open, rational engineering science. It explains how to mature an organization without losing its entrepreneurial spirit, a key ingredient of ‘crossing the chasm.”

Geoffrey Moore, best-selling author, Crossing the Chasm

About NDMA Inc.

NDMA is a consulting firm specializing in organizational transformations which implement the business-within-a-business paradigm.

Press Contact
Name: Ray Terlaga
Phone: 203-790-1100

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