Organization and Staffing – Ground Rule #1

This is the eighth in a series of posts that will describe what the CEO of the Reliance Electric Company thought about basic commitments, how the organization was going to operate and ground rules for managers. Once again, all the content of this article is based on the work of B. Charles Ames as outlined in his management manifesto titled Basic Management Concepts dated January 14, 1974.

Organization and Staffing – Ground Rule #1

It’s people.  People, not structure, make the organization succeed or fail.  Ames cautioned against blindly following theoretical organization concepts.  He was quick to point out that what worked in the past from an organizational standpoint might not be effective in the current situation.  He told his managers to be particularly on guard here as the downside was wasted talents and efforts, leading to poor results.

Ames went on to remind his managers that changing the organization without real purpose solved nothing.  Dedicated, exceptional people can make almost any organizational structure work.  On the other hand, B and C players will not be effective under any organization concept.  Shuffling names, titles and org chart boxes damages morale and diminishes results.  Managers who play the org chart game delude themselves into thinking they have “done something.” Instead, Ames instructed his managers to face their problems head on.

He didn’t say that the organization model should never be changed.  The change, however, needed to be tied to better use of talents and resources.  That is, better use of people, time and money.  Ames challenged his managers to avoid the trap of tinkering with the org chart as a way of “escaping or putting off fundamental problems that are difficult or uncomfortable with which to deal.”

In a real sense, he instructed his managers to seek the truth and face reality.  And that is usually about people.

B. Chuck Ames and his wife Jay currently manage the Ames Family Foundation.  They divide their time between a home in Vero Beach, Florida and a second home in a suburb of Cleveland.