There are four (4) basic functions to management: planning, organising, directing, and controlling.
We can picture what planning, directing, and controlling are. They’re kind of straightforward and self-explanatory. Organising, however, is not.
When we “organise,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? We perhaps think of putting our stuff in order, like filing away papers and cleaning out the clutter. Maybe we see organising as rearranging the tables of our subordinates, laying out the machinery, and scheduling who’ll work from home versus who’ll be at the office. It can be that we think it is about making an organisational chart that shows the positions of people.
Organising as a management function, however, is more than just all of the above.
The dictionary defines organise as “cause to be structured or ordered or operating according to some principle or idea,” and “arrange by systematic planning and united effort.” The key words are structure, order, and arrange and it is done for a principle or idea via systematic planning and united effort.
Organising is therefore not just making things neat. It’s about making things ready for a specific purpose. The “things” in this case are people, assets, resources, and products.
Managers organise people to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Organising is about employing and deploying the people crucial to making the enterprise’s goals into realities. These include those we directly hire, i.e. employees, and those we engage with such as contractors and vendors.
The tasks in organising people include team building, organisational development, training, defining job descriptions or scopes of work, and assignment of duties and responsibilities.
To get things done, managers need to have their assets in place and ready to be used. These include having enough funds to pay for them and prepping them for operation.
There have been many times I’ve seen managers order equipment and then realising they didn’t set aside enough money to pay the seller, causing delays in installation and start-ups.
Organising assets includes tasks such as allocating cash in conjunction with budgets, setting up work stations, making and doing a checklist for preventive maintenance, calibrating gauges, running diagnostics, preparing storage space, and housekeeping.
Resources are the materials, supplies, energy, water, and spare parts that we need to get things done.
Managers tend to underestimate the organisation of resources.
Organising resources include preparing purchase orders, putting items in their proper place, checking that item codes are updated in the information system, informing security and receiving clerks what vendors are delivering the next day, clarifying policies such as first-in first-out retrieval, cycle counting of items to reconcile with inventory records, and regular quality inspections of critical components & parts.
Similar to organising resources, we should make sure products are in their proper places, their codes complete in our computers, and delivery documents are arranged visibly for dispatch. Organising products also includes classifying each product’s inventory policy, marshalling finished goods for staging, categorising them by segment, group, family, and stock-keeping unit, and fixing the process descriptions and parameters of each.
Organising products is no less important than organising people, assets, and resources. In many cases, it should be the first to be done before the rest.
Organisation is not the same as organising. The former is about structure; the latter is function. Organising is work we may call mundane but necessary because the devil is in the details. We can plan, direct, and control but if we don’t organise, that is, focus on things, make sure they’re in order, arranged, and ready for the strategies we will execute, then we’ll for sure run into trouble.
Leaders rally people to a cause. Managers organise people, assets, resources, and products to make real the goals of the cause.
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