Adhocracy Organizational Model
When did bureaucracy become a dirty word? Almost certainly when the idea of adhocracy emerged.
The two are polar opposites: radically different ways to coordinate an organization. The one a set of rules and systems that overlay everything. The other, a fresh recreation for every new need.
But, while the concept of bureaucracy goes back to the nineteenth century; adhocracy is new. But maybe not as new as you think.
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The Nature of Organizations
This video is part of course module number 6.1.2
Program 6: Managing within Organizations
Course 1: The Nature of Organizations
Section 2: Organizational Models
Other videos in this section include:
🎬 Edgar Schein’s Two Organizational Cultures – https://youtu.be/9C64CXJw83E
🎬 Henry Mintzberg’s 4 plus 2 Organizational Types – https://youtu.be/JmvYcskjh3E
🎬 Charles Handy’s Gods of Management – https://youtu.be/yClxu7dzmB4
🎬 Charles Handy’s Shamrock Organization – https://youtu.be/dGGKT0Mr_HA
🎬 Charles Handy’s Federal Organization Model – https://youtu.be/69AYxCvT7m4
🎬 Charles Handy’s Triple-I Company – https://youtu.be/gFRXiMkIg6k
🎬 The Matrix Organization Model – https://youtu.be/hJ9wbFgmtKM
🎬 Peter Senge’s Learning Organization – https://youtu.be/k1k2h1l2VO0
🎬 The Agile Organization – https://youtu.be/67NVUeFQMy4
🎬 Brian Robertson’s Holacracy – https://youtu.be/hz3khhOLT5E
🎬 Virtual Organizations – https://youtu.be/Hsovj2jPNPA
Adhocracy is a temporary structure for running a project. But, some organizations are trying to make this flexible approach a new norm. A kind of permanent impermanence.
The idea is to replace a rigid bureaucratic structure with a fluid, informal set of relationships.
Investopedia’s description captures as much about why it is of value as it does about what it is.
‘A form of business management which emphasizes individual initiative and self-organization in order to accomplish tasks.’
The Origin of Adhocracy
The term ‘adhocracy’ was coined by Warren Bennis. He predicted agile project teams within a loose structure. The idea was popularized by Alvin Toffler in his best seller, ‘Future Shock’. He envisaged flat organizational structures, with rapidly forming and re-forming project teams. He called these organizations ‘kinetic‘.
It was Henry Mintzberg who took the idea and gave it rigor. We first saw this term in our video on Mintzberg’s 4 Organizational Types – https://youtu.be/JmvYcskjh3E
Mintzberg understood that projects come together within a larger organization, adopt whatever structure they need, and morph as the project evolves. There’s often a high degree of self-direction among highly competent team members. Coordination comes not through the structure, but by effective communication between people.
In this sense, a good description of adhocracy is Robert Waterman’s, from his 1990 book, Adhocracy (https://geni.us/IwQPJ). In an adhocracy, the organization…
‘cuts across normal bureaucratic lines to capture opportunities, solve problems and get results.’
Note: Mintzberg saw two models:
– Operational Adhocracy, which works on behalf of its clients, like service businesses
– Administrative Adhocracy, which comes together to serve its parent organization.
Both models create adaptability and react to changes in circumstance, but are poor at strategy building, because members have little investment in the adhocracy’s long-term development.
It remains to be seen whether organizations can develop a new form of ‘permanent adhocracy’ in which these evolving flexible units can together form the whole of a permanent organization. I suspect this may be possible – under the new term ‘The Agile Organization’ – https://youtu.be/67NVUeFQMy4
– Understanding Organizations https://geni.us/oB774Do
– Images of Organization https://geni.us/hrOemEs
– Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers https://geni.us/YwwL
– Gods of Management: The Four Cultures of Leadership https://geni.us/bpPeC5
Managers Need a Basic set of kit to do your job well. Here are my top recommendations: https://kit.co/MikeClayton/manager-s-work-kit (the links are affiliated)
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