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The Processes of Organization and Management

Modern organizations all too often suffer from isolated departments, poor communication, and fragmented work, making it difficult for managers to accomplish their goals. A focus on processes, or collections of tasks and activities that together transform inputs into outputs, allows organizations to view and manage materials, information, and people in a more integrated way.

Garvin provides a framework that managers can use to decide how to intervene in their organization's activities and to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. One part of the framework reflects organizational processes: work processes, which produce products for customers or generate information for internal use; behavioral processes, or widely shared patterns of acting and interacting; and change processes, which describe how individuals, groups, and organizations adapt, develop, and grow over time.

The organizational perspective enables managers to mesh segmented tasks with the larger needs of the organization. It suggests that rather than focusing on individuals or departments when problems arise, managers need to be more attentive to organizational processes; furthermore, it argues that design efforts should begin by attending to these processes and only later shift to the structures needed to accommodate them.

The other part of the framework reflects managerial processes: direction setting, or establishing goals; negotiation and selling, or obtaining needed support and resources; and monitoring and control, or tracking activities and performance. Managerial processes depend on rich communication, sensitivity to relationships, and an understanding of the organization's power relationships.

Most research on organizations focuses on either broad strategies or detailed tactics. With its focus on the intermediate level, the process approach is helpful in addressing implementation challenges. In classifying the major types of processes, Garvin's framework can serve as a starting point for managers seeking to improve their ability to get things done.

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