It’s a puzzling fact that one of the most costly and stressful organizational change strategies – restructuring – is virtually NEVER subjected to any serious evaluation.
The reshuffling of lines and boxes; the layoffs; the unwanted ‘domino effect’ turnover of valuable employees; the ripple effects on families; whether the intended improvements in focus, efficiency, productivity, and competitive advantage emerge; or whether they outweigh the costs and negative side effects … all subjected to little more than some armchair analysis by management.
Public and private, for-profit, non-profit, and government organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (sometimes more) on working out the best restructure and implementing the change.
But for some unfathomable reason, no-one ever says “I wonder if we should see whether all that expenditure and upheaval was worth it” or “We should try and learn from this huge initiative so we can get it right as it unfolds and do it better next time.”
Or do they?
In 2005, four intrepid health researchers from Norway and Canada published a review of all the articles that evaluated reorganizations.
The following is their abstract, but it is well worth clicking through to the full article!
A surrealistic mega-analysis of redisorganization theories
Background We are sick and tired of being
Objective To systematically review the empirical
evidence for organizational theories and repeated
Methods We did not find anything worth reading,
other than Dilbert, so we fantasized. Unfortunately, our
fantasies may well resemble many people’s realities.
We are sorry about this, but it is not our fault.
Results We discovered many reasons for repeated
reorganizations, the most common being ‘no good
reason’. We estimated that trillions of dollars are being
spent on strategic and organizational planning
activities each year, thus providing lots of good reasons
for hundreds of thousands of people, including us,
to get into the business. New leaders who are
intoxicated with the prospect of change further fuel
perpetual cycles of redisorganization. We identified
eight indicators of successful redisorganizations,
including large consultancy fees paid to friends and
Conclusions We propose the establishment of ethics
committees to review all future redisorganization
proposals in order to put a stop to uncontrolled,
unplanned experimentation inflicted on providers and
users of the health services.