MWH is a global engineering services firm considered to be a leader in water, hydropower and environmental remediation. It was trying to turn the geographically organized department into one organized by function and the reorganization will depend on effective collaboration. The existing relationships are providing through ONA analysis, a method for mapping relationships among people in a group. This case looks into the old structure under which departments are fragmented by geography and constrained by hierarchy and other gaps in connectivity.
Challenges are listed for discussion and recommendations are provided for steps to be taken to align the department’s network with MWH’s business objectives. An IT department organized by geography instead of functionality had been acceptable when MWH was smaller, which is now impossible for the IT department to deliver sophisticated, standardized solutions. The information-seeking relationships that existed at the birth of iNet were based on shared geography, not on shared functional areas. . There was only limited collaboration across the IT business centers and this fragmentation results in internal customers experiencing varying levels of service, functionality and costs for technical solutions and applications.
Even more crucial was service to external customers. 3. The lack of standardization. Employees had no strong process base to guide them and they got work done by turning to other people for help.
The leaders of the various IT groups met two or three times a year in an effort to drive standard approaches for the company, but the groups continued to operate independently, each serving its own master and employing its own measures and processes.
4. There was limited collaboration between some locations for MWH, this imposed a big challenge for the iNet project because some are planned to be built into important serve locations globally.
Some groups were not providing optimal solutions to customers because they did not leverage each other’s expertise, therefore higher than industry average IT cost lead to lower competiveness of service quality and cost. 6. There was hierarchy exist. Overall, there was a relatively high level of collaboration among the most senior iNet employees, but less connectivity was evident among those at lower levels. 7. The network size varied a lot from 1~2 to more than 25 overloaded by some people which reveals a serious asymmetry of the relationship distribution. 8.
A lot of relationships existed within immediate team only; few had any ties outside of MWH. 9. The serendipitous interactions could preclude effective information-seeking. RECOMMENDATION All the issues addressed above occurred from inefficient organization structure and lack of collaboration, which can be solved by carefully designing and building a networked organization. Following are the reconditions for successfully carrying out iNet project to: 1) Increase responsiveness and adaptiveness through real time operation. 2) Maximize the knowledge potential of the enterprise by leveraging expertise companywide and share information. ) Minimize disruption and duplication, which promises delivering optimal solution and with lower cost. Recommendations are from two aspects: restructure company departments and better managing networked relationships throughout the whole organization. Organization Restructure 1. Fluid boundaries MWH need to breakdown the geography base departments and carry out a function integration to increase its capacity to respond quickly and effectively to market forces, therefore improve the quality of conformance to customer requirements and reduce costs.
Centralization of like tasks or functions and management of geographically separated units will enhance a more network-oriented improvement. From exhibit we can see that the new organization structure has fewer departments and levels, all the new departments are no longer designed according to geography but functions. However, having a revised organization structure graph is far from enough. To make it work, the manager needs to make sure there is no longer geography boundaries exit. New operational structure need to push functions out or pull them back in different departments as they suit company’s strategy.
Large-scale integration of functions and systems required to fully manage the operation and service process. 2. Information infrastructure Executives must use powerful technology to allow information to flow seamlessly across, out of, and into the company. Well-planned technical architecture need to be set up to allow information to move freely. MWH need to build up an integrated and overarching architecture for the entire company, not just a patchwork of current system linking to individual’s solutions. A through analyze of existing technology support will be needed to balance with the infrastructure requirements of the iNet project. . New management structure Advance IT systems will help to remove some mid-level management positions and creates a flatter structure, therefore, old control and planning style will be revised. Senior managers should be able to see into a larger group of employees with technology, while push down information simultaneously. Senior management should be linked with each other, therefore be able to draw on the entire management team for input when it comes to important decision process. The entire control and planning process will then become an on-line, real-time, team-based, coordinated process.
This change will create deeper understanding of issue facing each senior manager and activities need to be adopted, thus more proper coordination at the senior management level. It also provides opportunities to move decisions either up or down in the organization. Team decisions making will be easier and faster, as geographically separated departments can concurrently access and assess data and communicate at the very first time. 4. Expertise group To better utilize the knowledge of experts in the organization, expertise group need to be carefully designed and make sure they can provide help and share information easily.
Every knowledge worker should belong to at least two separate teams, which helps the organization achieve cross functional co-operation as well as helping individuals gain a broader perspective. Social relationship Management 1. Management of interdependence Under iNet, there is going to be considerable interdependence among all management actives. Instead of taking full control over the immediate lower level employees in the department, managers need to cope with unclear lines of authority and decision makings which rely more on interactions from other teams and departments. The managers need to share resources more freely and perate in a more diffuse responsibility and accountability environment. 2. Management of role complexity In old MWH organization structure, ONA analysis revealed the existence of highly hierarchy: senior and highly relied people had full control over the resources while lower level and highly peripheral employees with limited access to resources and authority. Within the networked organization, as the complexity of shared work, decision making, expertise and accountability increase, employees need to be involved in more complex network recourses to gain stronger skill to adapt the new responsibilities.
The manager’s challenge here is to give employees confidence and resources to gain these skills including tools/techniques necessary, conceptualization, experience and interpersonal skills necessary to work efficiently with other. This can be achieved from assigning expertise groups to help and trainings. 3. Management of information seeking In the old structure, many employees seek information from their immediate teams and many others tend obtain information mainly from serendipitous interactions.
The social capital was tight, informal relationships was unseen among employees, while the new networked form company functions efficiently with its flexible relationships. On one hand, managers need to improve the information seeking process for more efficient result. Formal relationships are best cemented by having agreed written process and common members in all teams. Higher trust and openness rather than higher formality environment need to be created for critical linkages. Frequent communication throughout the network must be encouraged; small groups developing its own communication dose not foster the net work spirit.
On the other hand, besides of formal relationships, employees should be encouraged to maintain their personal and professional networks, even beyond the identifiable needs of the current team. 4. Management of culture Another big challenge the manger need to work on to foster iNet is creating trust culture in the organization. Transforming from the traditional structure, trust is one of the most important forces. Employees must have a clear understanding of task intent, information, and trust in the people, resources and technologies available.
As a global company, establishing a trust-based culture is more difficult for MWH because of the diversified locations and mixed nationalities, there is no control over individual’s location, training, and experience. The relationship between people is fluid. Moving information in the networked organization and more complex roles demands a higher level of trust and dependence between managers and employees. This trust-based culture can be grown from joint training, team work and other continued integrations and reinforcements.
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