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Levers Of Organization Design: How Managers Use Accountability Systems For Greater Performance And Commitment Hardcover – July 1, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Simons is the Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration in the Accounting & Control area at Harvard Business School.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591392837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591392835
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Unlike subtitles of so many other recently published business books, the one for Levers of Organization Design correctly identifies its author's primary objective: to explain "how managers use accountability systems" to achieve "greater performance and commitment." Simons thoroughly and brilliantly responds to questions such as these:

What are the nature and extent of tensions of organization design or redesign?
How to get "span of attention" in proper alignment?
What is an appropriate "unit structure"? Why?
Which diagnostic control systems can be most effective? How?
Why are interactive networks essential?
How to establish and then strengthen them?
How should shared responsibilities be determined and then managed?
Then, how to sustain productive collaboration?
Which "levers" of organizational design are most effective? Why?
Which examples best illustrate how to make appropriate adjustment of them?
What are the most effective strategies and tactics when designing organizations for performance?

According to research which Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton provide in The Strategy-Focused Organization, only 5% of the workforce understand their company's strategy, only 25% of managers have incentives linked to strategy, 60% of organizations don't link budgets to strategy, and 85% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy. If true, these are chilling statistics which suggest that few decision-makers in any organization (regardless of its size or nature) would be able to answer, clearly and realistically, each of the questions listed previously. Hence the urgency of their reading Simons' book. I also urge them to check out the several works co-authored by Kaplan and Norton.
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Format: Hardcover
Finally, an OD book with a solid combination of theory and practice. The theory in this book is the most comprehensive model for OD I've ever seen. Simons' model incorporates all functional areas of business. He does an excellent job of looking at the whole organizational picture. This is where many authors have fallen short with theories that only cover one or two functional areas of business leaving you to guess at how to incorporate the rest. This cross-functional approach to OD is not just refreshing; it's quite necessary in today's business environment.

Simons' theory is based on levers and sliders. Easy to understand and easy to visualize. Part of the value of the book is that the theory is backed up with practical implementation examples. Like any good learning resource (a.k.a. text book) each chapter provides us with a summary and action steps. I give this book an A+ and consider it a "must read" for anyone in the OD field. It is also recommended for management teams looking to assess their organization design. Using this book will provide the understanding you need to get started.
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Format: Hardcover
There are some books that grip once attention, and make you think deeply about everything that you know and understand, of how organisations function. Robert congratulations! Your arguments are compelling and disturbing because I have to find ways to relate the material to my clients.

Span of Control
The most often used concept in organisations is span of control. You pointed out that this narrow definition is not enough when you consider the design of organisations. I find myself wondering how managers within different parts of the organisation define their span of control. Is IT the business of IT, or who is responsible for implementing IT? Who takes ownership for data quality?

Span of accountability
Your discussion on measurement is interesting and enlightening and through my experience I can validate that people use more output measures than input and throughput measures when assigning accountabilities. It is clear that the level and the volume of measures matters.

Span of Influence
This is a challenging measure and will confront leaders and managers to reflect about the level of influence they have over operating units. It will stir a much needed debate in companies provided that consultant's find ways to engage in the transformational discussions it suggests.

Span of Support
The level of support that organisational managers and leaders give could clearly become a key differentiator between successful and unsuccessful companies.

Span of Attention
By combining all the above in a framework of span of attention you have established new way of thinking about the interactions in existence when performing organisational effectiveness assessments. You earned my endorsement of this great book!
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Format: Hardcover
A first-rate book on the subject of organizational design.

Chapters focus on:

- tensions of organization design;

- aligning span of attention;

- unit structure;

- diagnostic control systems;

- interactive networks;

- shared responsibilities;

- examples of adjusting the levers; and

- designing organizations for performance.

Central to this book are four key factors that guide effective design decisions: customer definition, critical performance variables, creative tension, and commitment to others.

The book offers great insights and guidance to design an organization that influences how people perform, focus their attention, and how their efforts can be aligned with strategy. Rich in content and value! Very highly recommended.
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