If you want to change the organization: Change the structure.

Did Tidd and Bessant (2009) miss the forest for the trees when considering the actual building of an “innovative organization;” yes, very much so. Dandira (2012) makes a compelling argument for dysfunctional organization being a cancer with all the life threatening imagery and dramatic baggage. How an organization culturally defines a leader, understands a manager, and differentiates between these two terms lays the basis for the organization to flourish and grow or get sick and die. So many business professionals confuse the term leader and manager that in some circles the terms are almost synonymous. The problem with the confusion of these terms is that of frustration. Dandira (2012) speaks eloquently about the cause and effect of frustrated employees. Exploring this further, let us discuss specific organizations with organizational cancer, stemming directly to an overexposure to frustration.

In Northern Ohio, an organization that has existed for almost 100 years as a plastic extrusion facility is all but going under from sheer inertia. They have a valuable product, incredible technology, core human experience, great engineers, and stupendous amounts of cheap labor and union labor in the labor pool to draw upon. This is a family-run business where the owner is hostile to competition. They only hire managers, never leaders; hence, employee frustration on the scale described by Dandira (2012) occurs by the minute. Since the labor pool is so large, no organizational decision maker will confront the owner and change the culture, even though they recognize the company’s failures. The consequences of inaction are sinking a profitable mid-sized business and the owner will never know until it is too late to change the course, even if they wanted to change. While not the only organization experiencing this problem, this is an excellent case model for describing the problem. Tribus (n.d.) quotes Juran’s rule, adapted here for clear understanding, when an organization experiences a problem, 85% of the time the problems solution lies in changing the processes, only 15% of the time will changing the people solve the problem. Miles and Snow (1978) make crystal clear an important fact related to Tribus (n.d.) and Juran’s rule, to empower change in a culture, first the organization must change the organizational structure.


Dandira, M. (2012). Dysfunctional leadership: Organizational cancer. Business Strategy Series, 13(4), 187-192. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17515631211246267

Miles, R. & Snow, C. (1978) Organizational Strategy, Structure, and Process. New York: McGraw-Hill

Tribus, M. (n.d.). Changing the Corporate Culture Some Rules and Tools. Retrieved from: Changing the Corporate Culture Some Rules and Tools Web site: http://deming.eng.clemson.edu/den/change_cult.pdf

Tidd, J., & Bessant, J. R. (2009). Managing innovation: integrating technological, market and organizational change (4th ed.). Chichester, England: John Wiley.


© 2014 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved



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Dual service military veteran. Possess an MBA in Global Management and a Masters degree in Adult Education and Training. Pursuing a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Business professional with depth of experience in logistics, supply chain management, and call centers.

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