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A Comparison of

five popular Organization

Design Models

April 2012
Organization Design Models- A comparison

Organization Design is not an exact science. The success of any

approach lies in making the design exercise logical and objective.

Over the years, many models have been developed for understanding
the various elements of Organization Design. The objective has been to
provide a framework to understand the intricacies of organization design.

We present here five most popular models for Organization Design with
their benefits and limitations

We hope that knowing the benefits and limitations of each model assists
you in making the right choice for designing your organization

Source: Guide to Organisation Design: Creating High-Performing and Adaptable Enterprises

By Naomi Stanford, John Wiley& Sons, 2007
McKinsey’s 7S Model
Published by Waterman & Peters
in 1980s, this is the most
commonly accepted model. Its
popularity lies in the fact that
both hard elements and soft
elements have been considered
and their interactions are firmly

Benefits Limitations
• Description of important organizational • No external environment (input)
elements. /throughput /(output) element
• Recognition of the interaction between •No feedback loops
the elements. •No performance variables.
Developed by Jay Galbraith in
Galbraith’s Star Model 1960s, the star model is widely
accepted because of the
Strategy approach that seamlessly links
competitive advantage to
strategy to structure , people ,
lateral processes and reward

People Structure

Rewards Processes

Performance Culture
Benefits Limitations
•Description of important • Does not “call out” some key
organizational elements elements including inputs/outputs
•Recognition of the interaction culture
between the elements
Developed by Marvin Weisbord in the 1970s, this

Weisbord Six Box Model model gives attention to issues such as planning,
incentives and rewards, the role of support functions
,internal competitions among organizational units, and
Purpose the delegation of authority, organizational control,
What business are we accountability and performance assessment
How do we manage Structure
conflict among How do we divide
people? up the work?
With technology?

Does someone keep the
boxes in balance?

Helpful Mechanism
Have we adequate co- Rewards
Do all needs tasks
ordinating Environment have incentives?

Benefits Limitations
• Includes some diagnostic • Focus on some elements may
questions in each box lead to overlooking of others
• Requires the purpose to be
Nadler and Tushman’s Congruence Model
Developed by David A Nadler and M L
Tushman in the early 1980s, the basic
principle of this model is that an
organization's performance is derived from
four elements: tasks, people, structure, and
culture. The higher the congruence, or
Informal compatibility, amongst these elements, the
Organization greater the performance.

Input Individual,
Strategy, Formal
Work team and
Resources, Organization organizational
Environment performance


Benefits Limitations
•Easy to follow • Few named elements may lead to
•Allows for discussion of what wheel spinning or overlooking of
comprises informal & formal crucial aspects.
•Boxes must be congruent with each
Developed by Burke & Litwin in 1992, this model
shows the various drivers of change and ranks
Burke-Litwin Model them in terms of importance. The model is
expressed diagrammatically, with the most
important factors featuring at the top. The lower
External layers become gradually less important.
Mission & Organization
Strategy culture

Structure Practice Systems

Work unit
requirements Individual needs
and individual and values
skills Motivation

Individual and
Benefits Limitations
• Includes feedback loops • Very detailed
• “Calls out” more qualitative • Difficult to grasp at a glance
aspects(e.g. motivation)