Business and Society in a digital Age ZAA 101

WEEK 2

Hi and welcome to week 2 where we will be discussing what are organisations like in the contemporary workplace?

First of all let’s define what we mean by an organisation. The management text states that ‘an organisation is a collection of people working together to achieve a common purpose’. So how does an organisation go about delivering this? Most organisations will start with a vision or mission statement, this statement outlines the organisations purpose. Once a vision is established then organisations move to a strategic plan where they turn the purpose of the organisation into objectives and outline how these objectives will be achieved. Once the objectives are outlined then organisations develop an implementation plan, which details the resource allocation and operations needed to fulfil the strategy.

In order to deliver on the strategic plan, organisations can be seen as systems. The management text outlines that it ‘is helpful to view them as open systems that interact with their environments in the continual process of transforming resource inputs into product outputs in the form of finished goods and/or services’.

The management text provides a great diagram outlining this process as follows.

So ‘the environment supplies the resource inputs such as people, money, materials, technology and information, the organisation creates workflows that turns the resources into outputs and the environment consumes the product outputs as finished good and services’. Feedback from the consumer will occur and the cycle starts all over again.

What sort of skills will people need in order to survive in the contemporary workplace? The management text outlines the following:

Mastery

You need to be good at something; you need to be able to contribute something valuable to your employer.

The information coming out of industry now is that people need to have a particular skill they excel at, being a generalist is no longer as acceptable as it once was.

Contacts

You need to know people; links with peers and others within and outside the organisation are essential to get things done.

You will hear the terms networking, stakeholder engagement, relationship management and all these will refer to the ability for you to develop and maintain meaningful contacts throughout your working career.

When I first started working at the University I was working on a project to see whether there was any market viability for offering an Associate Degree in Local Government, and I had to meet with all the General Managers and Mayors in the North and North West. As I had just left local government I had all the required contacts to get the project done because I knew the General Managers. When I managed to get into their diaries when I contacted them and get the work done quickly. However, if I had not made those connections with other councils in the State during my time in local government it would have taken a lot longer to get that piece of work completed.

Entrepreneurship

You must act as if you are running your own business, spotting ideas and opportunities, and stepping out to embrace them.

In many organisations financial constraints are becoming very common but you can only cut a budget so far before you can’t operate at all so employers are looking for people who will come up with new ways of doing things that can provide efficiencies to the organisation. It is no longer satisfactory to accept that we do things this way because we have always done them that way, we need to be creative in our thought process to see if there is a better or more efficient way to do something especially with the changing nature of technology.

Love of technology

You have to embrace technology, you do not have to be a technician, but you must be willing and able to fully utilise IT effectively and creatively.

We have already covered this well in the challenges that face a contemporary workplace but we also need to acknowledge that technology is an opportunity as much as it can be a challenge. It may not always work out how you imagined but at least be willing to give it a go.

Marketing

You need to be able to communicate your successes and progress, both yours personally and those of your work group.

Marketing yourself is a hard one for some people as we come from a culture where it can be perceived as bragging if we try to talk up our successes. We need to get past this because from experience if you don’t market yourself no one else is going to do it for you. Of course it is much easier to market the efforts of the team as it is a group effort and the success is shared.

Passion for renewal

You need to be continuously learning and changing and updating yourself to best meet future demands.

You will most probably hear me going on about the merits of being a lifelong learner throughout this subject but I believe in it completely. I also believe that no matter how much experience you have or no matter how many degrees, you can always learn something new or consider a better way of doing things. However, you do have to be prepared to be challenged and to listen to the opinions of others.

Organisations don’t run themselves. There is a structure in place enabling the organisation to come up with and fulfill its objectives. There are different levels of management in an organisation, generally a large organisation will have a Board of Directors, a CEO and Operational Managers. These are generally considered the senior levels of an organisation and all other positions cascade down from the Operational Managers. As organisations decrease in size, generally the number of management levels also decreases.

So, if we look at a Board of Directors, as per the management text, ‘the decisions as to what purpose the organisation is to serve, in which environment it is to operate and how it is to undertake its mission are the responsibility of the board of directors as the most senior level of management in the organisation, to whom other levels report and who are held legally responsible for the organisations operations’. Generally speaking, a Board of Directors will set the strategic direction of an organisation and employ a CEO to implement and lead that strategy.

The management text also highlights that ‘good management requires that board members do not become involved in day-to-day operational decisions and operations, which are the responsibility of the CEO and other managers.

A Board must register its members through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC is the acronym). Now remember we are not talking about a sports shoe here! The Australian Securities & Investments Commission is an independent Australian government body that acts as Australia's corporate regulator.

According to the ASIC website, ASIC contribute to Australia’s economic reputation and wellbeing by ensuring that Australia’s financial markets are fair and transparent, supported by confident and informed investors and consumers.

ASIC is set up under and administer the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act), and they carry out most of our work under the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act).

So, if we move to the position of Chief Executive Officer, Wikipedia defines a CEO:

"the position of the most senior corporate officer, executive leader or administrator in charge of managing an organisation."

CEOs lead a range of organizations, including public and private corporations, non-profit organizations and even some government organizations. The CEO of a corporation or company typically reports to the board of directors and is charged with maximizing the value of the entity, which may include maximizing the share price, market share, revenues, or another element. In the non-profit and government sector, CEOs typically aim at achieving outcomes related to the organization's mission, such as reducing poverty, increasing literacy, etc’.

Then we move to Operational Managers who report directly to the CEO. Per the management text, ‘they are responsible for implementing the board’s strategies and for the efficient and effective deployment of organisational assets and resources in the service of achieving the organisations outcomes’.

So, if we look at a few organisational structures, let’s look at Ashgrove Cheese, being a relatively small family business from Elizabeth Town they have 4 Board Directors and 6 Managers. Although not shown, there would also be some staff that sit under some of those management positions.

Now compare that to George Town Council which is considered a mid-size organisation and you start to see many more layers coming in under the managers.

University of Tasmania

Then if we go to the University of Tasmania which is a large organisation you start to see a much more complex structure. This organisational chart only shows the top levels of management as the departments are quite large and each department then has its own organisational chart.

To highlight some of the information we have just discussed please watch the interview with John Brown who provides some insight into the role of a General Manager/CEO in an organisation and the role and interaction between a CEO and the Board.

Watch the series of John Brown interviews in order to understand organisational structure.

Credits:

Created with images by FirmBee - "office notes notepad" • Picography - "workstation home office computer" • liesel24 - "cappuccino coffee break break" • FirmBee - "ipad mockup apple" • FuN_Lucky - "work money chaos" • Unsplash - "architect desk office"

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