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Strategy Structure and Behaviour

时间:2019-07-29    点击: 次    来源:网络转载    作者:佚名 - 小 + 大

one of the most important aspects in the conduct of war is
the relationship between strategy, structure and behaviour.
in fact, the following phrases by sun tzu are very

"to manage a large force in combat is similar to that of a
small force. it is a matter of organisation."

"to control a large force in combat is similar to that of a
small force. it is a matter of formations and signals."

 implicit in these two quotations is that size is not a
factor in management and control of an army. what is more
important is the way the army is organised and structured.
this is the same with business organisations. i have often
heard businessmen making remarks such as they wish their
companies are small. this is because if the company is
small, as a boss, he knows everything. there are no labour
problems, and hence no labour pains! on the other hand, i
have also heard businessmen wishing that they hope their
companies are large. this is because if the company is big,
he (as the boss) can afford to hire graduates and
professionals to work for him. he can then have more time
to play golf and pursue other interests and hobbies.
interestingly, the issue is not of size. rather, the
effectiveness and efficiency of any company or institution
depend largely on how it is organised and structured. this
is supported by the following saying by sun tzu :

"order and disorder depends on organisation."

 thus, the way a military general organises his army would
affect the behaviour of the troops in battle. in the same
way, the way a company is organised and structured will also
determine the behaviour of the employees. for example, if a
company wants to become international, it must be structured
in such a way so as to reward those employees with
international experience. in other words, those with
overseas experience must enjoy a premium when it comes to
promotion and rewards. otherwise, no one would want to work

 some years ago, a senior bank executive incharge of public
relations (pr) asked me for advice on how to justify the
activities of his pr department. i told him bluntly that
the survival of his pr department depends largely on the
magnanimity of his chief executive officer (ceo). i further
told him that for his pr department to do well, he must
report directly to the ceo as opposed to the senior officer
incharge of marketing. this is because in the pr area, a
lot of spending has no immediate nor direct returns. in
fact, it is very difficult to determine the relationship
between any increase in sales to that of pr activities. pr
activities are definitely different from those in marketing
whereby its expenses on advertising and promotion are all
sales-related. thus, if the pr person were to report to the
marketing manager, the outcome

is not difficult to predict
-- pr activities will endup with step-child treatment. yet
in today's highly competitive environment, the need for
effective pr programmes cannot be overlooked.

 what, then, determines structure? in war, it is always
strategy. in other words, the strategy must be the genesis
of any organisational design and structure. undeniably, no
organisation starts off with no structure. the point is,
when it comes to any new initiatives or programmes, the
strategy must be designed first. the appropriate support
structure and systems can then be put in place. it is just
like in military campaigns. no army in the world is
organised without a structure. if anything, the army is
probably one of the most structured organisations around.
however, when it comes to planning for war, the starting
point for the whole exercise begins with defining and
outlining the strategy (or battle plan and goals). for
example, in the 1991 war against iraq, the united states-led
forces decided on the strategy first before embarking on how
to organise for combat. otherwise, the united states would
have to ship its entire army to the gulf, including then
president george bush! after all, as the president, he was
the commander-in-chief. of course, in reality, we all know
that this was not the case. in fact, in the 1991 gulf war,
the united states experimented with many ways of organising
and structuring their troops for war, depending on the
strategies concerned. even general norman schwarzkopf was
himself a product of overall strategy.

 there are many reasons why structure and organisation must
follow the crystallisation of the strategy in war. firstly,
there is a need for flexibility. this is because battle
conditions are quite fluid, and the general on the ground
must be given the maximum flexibility to organise and
restructure his troops and formations depending on the
battle situations. at the same time, battle conditions are
filled with uncertainty. despite the best military
intelligence and analyses, the war environment is dynamic
and there is an urgent need and requirement to tailor the
strategy according to the situation of the battlefield.
thus, the general must be given the maximum leeway to
reorganise and restructure his troops.

 secondly, as battle conditions change, the general must
change his strategy accordingly. in other words, he has to
constantly reorganise according to his strategy. although
he begins with a battle plan, that plan can never be cast in
stone. he must constantly reorganise his troops for battles
as he changes his plan (strategy) to meet the dynamic
conditions of war. these changes are also necessitated as a
result of casualties when the war progresses. in sum, he
has to be very proactive and seize on any available

y to win. at the same time, he will be able to
tackle the risks and dangers more effectively. this
philosophy of shaping according to the changes on the
battleground was true of ancient wars, and is still
applicable today. in sum, the relationships between
strategy, structure and behaviour can be illustrated by the
following diagram:

|→ strategy(goals, objectives and plans)

|           ↓

|→ structure(organisation)

|            ↓

|→ behaviour(results, outcome)

 interestingly, when it comes to business organisations, we
tend to forget about these relationships. we often let the
structure dictate the strategy regardless of the changes in
the business environment. unfortunately, an organisation
structure can get fossilised over time and develop into a
highly bureaucratic institution. as a result, instead of
moving forward, it retards progress and cease to be a
learning organisation. it avoids risks and seek to take
decisions only in areas in which it is comfortable with.
such an approach is perhaps understandable if the business
environment is very stable with few changes. however, this
is far from the truth today.

 with the economic and financial turmoils that are
affecting the region, i would seriously urge companies to
re-examine their strategies to ensure that they are able to
withstand the challenges ahead. if new strategies are
required, companies must be bold enough to adopt them and
change their organisations accordingly. in other words, an
existing organisation or structure should not be viewed as
constraints to change if the strategy dictates that the
change is necessary. in this aspect, it is very heartening
to note that the government has started a comprehensive
review of our banking system in order to ensure its
competitiveness in the global economy. in the process, some
"sacred cows" may have to be done with, and there may be
significant changes to the banking industry. for example,
mergers as a strategy may be the way to go to ensure that
our banks can grow bigger and stronger so as to counter
stiff international competition. this would mean
substantial changes to the ways banks and other financial
institutions are organised and structured in singapore.

 the banking industry is only one such example of how
changes in strategies may dictate the need to reorganise and
restructure. many other industries in singapore face the
same challenge. while changes are often resisted (more so
when the stakeholders concerned are comfortable with
existing structures), they are nonetheless necessary for any
individual, organisation and society to improve and
progress. the current economic crisis perhaps provides the

for this to take place. after all, any shrewd
strategist would always focus on the opportunities that
provide the breakthroughs in a crisis rather than be
threatened by the danger.

(the writer is professor of business policy; dean, faculty
of business administration; director, graduate school of
business, national university of singapore & a resource
panellist of sph's chinese newspapers.)

















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