Comparing Organizational Charters
7 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008
This case presents the apparent organizational charters of ten large companies. "Organizational charters" is a term defined in the note by that name (UVA-OB-0600) that includes (a) purpose, (b) vision, (c) values, (d) strategy, (e) operating goals, and (f) leadership. The case includes public data from company Web sites and annual reports in computers, foods, and conglomerates. Students can assets the clarity of these 10 charters and practice thinking and speaking without confusion about them.
COMPARING ORGANIZATIONAL CHARTERS
Organizational structures have undergone a widespread and much-talked-about shift in recent years, with traditional hierarchies giving way to “flatter,” less centralized models. Employees increasingly distant from the company boardroom have been given a greater role than ever before in charting their company's course. The benefits are many, but the “flat” organization also poses a fundamental challenge. With so many involved in the decision-making, how can an organization act as purposefully and coherently as it did in times past, when a strong-willed CEO or company founder could personally oversee an entire strategy?
The task at hand, in other words, is to communicate with clarity some sense of the company's identity—its mission, what it will and will not do on principle, and what specific measures it will take to bring to pass some vision of its future—to employees everywhere in the organization. Toward this end, the organizational charter has been an increasingly popular means. The technical note “Organizational Charters: Mission, Vision, Values, Strategies, and Goals” (UVA-OB-0600) provides a model for the organizational charter, describes its components, and hints at the difference that an enlightened organizational charter can make. For instance, the question of a company's “mission” often prompts the automatic reply “To make money!”—a narrow focus that can in fact produce less satisfactory financial results than the broader statement “To serve and satisfy the customer.”
But what of the real world? To what extent do leading businesses explicitly state their missions, their visions, their values, the strategies they plan to implement, and the operating goals with which they will chart their progress? We picked 10 leading corporations, two in each of five different industries, and searched their 2005 annual reports and current company Web sites for an answer. (We reasoned that a company probably does not place much stock in any statement of values or vision that it doesn't bother to communicate to the shareholders and the public.) The results, presented in pairs one industry at a time, may help to clarify what makes a powerful charter and what makes for one that is lacking. In the example grids below, you'll notice empty cells. These were cells asking for data that was not apparent in the public sources. We make no claim that these are the answers that any company representative would give when asked about an organization's mission or charter, only that we were able to find them in the public domain—and that they therefore are presumably pretty close to the formal view. As you read, consider which ones you find more powerful or weaker and why.
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Keywords: leadership, organizational culture, strategy
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Comparing Organizational Charters
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