Whenever I post about how structure can get in the way of progress I hear from people who remind me we need structure to prevent organizational chaos.
And, I agree. I also learn people are usually opposed to micromanagement (and, many times this is in principle or theory more than practice), but when you push against structure the very structured people come out of their proverbial shell.
When I push against structure am I referring to micromanagement?
Well, yes and no. Micromanagement is an impediment to organizational health, and many times structure is micromanagement, but I when I mention structure I simply mean structure.
So what’s my push against structure?
I agree we need structure. Structure is good for organizational health, but we don’t need structure for structure sake. We need structure for progress sake.
And there is a huge difference.
If I use a spiritual example, I see it as similar to the concept of grace, freedom and the law. We don’t need laws if we are bound by grace. Grace is actually a higher standard than the law. But, we have to have an established order in our world for progress. It is a wicked world and we could never get anything done without some sense of structure.
In an organizational sense, if we all did the right thing we wouldn’t need structure. But structure allows for progress. When structure becomes a problem – when it gets in the way – and the kind of structure which causes me the most concern – is when well-meaning structure impedes progress.
Consider this example:
Imagine a rule which says everyone has to be in the church office from 8 to 5. (I would say this is a fairly common structure.) Now imagine I am someone who greatly respects authority. Perhaps I’m even a rule follower, therefore, I obey the structure and am dutifully at my desk from 8am to 5pm everyday.
The fact is, however, I work at my absolute best from 5am to 9am in the morning – out of the office. I have a room in my house set up for maximum efficiency. I can do what would normally take me most of a day in 4 hours in this setting.
Sticking to the structure in this case would limit my ability to be at my best. The organization (or in my case the church) suffers because of the structure. It impeded my progress.
At the other extreme, because I’m following the structure, I may not go to the emergency hospital visit at midnight. After all, office hours are over by then.
This type example is why I am far less strict on when I see people in the office. I would rather measure people’s contributions to the team based on their overall productivity and performance – are they meeting the goals and objectives for their position. (And, I think the individual should be the primary one to set their own goals and objectives.)
The bottom line is structure should enhance not impede progress.
Good structure should always help you accomplish what God plants in your heart to accomplish. It shouldn’t distract from it or get in the way. The best leaders are always looking to help their teams lead through the things which get in the way of progress or achieving the overall goals and objectives. This includes bad structure.