Discourse Toolbox - Organisations

A Set of Questions for Organisation Analysis

There are so many types of organisations so I will briefly list a set of questions to help to define and describe any particular organisation

  • What is the main activity of the organisation - does it trade necessary supplies (companies) or provide necessary services (hospitals, social services)
  • Does it have any major subsidiary activities
  • How is it legally constituted - as charity, business, partnership, club, society, co-operative, etc.
  • is it led by entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, directors, trustees, managers, committees ....... and so on.
  • who does if provide a service to - customers, clients, service users, trainees, other organisations .... and what service(s) does it provide ?
  • how does it usually get its customers/clients/users
  • who is it answerable to - shareholders, directors, trustees ......
  • how are these "director level" people appointed
  • how and why do they (and the orgnanisation) take actions
  • do they have an over-riding philosophy (profit, service, etc.)
  • what is its foundation myth (what new recruits are told about how and why the organisation began - some of the most successful organisations are the ones with the best foundation myths)
  • who are the staff, how are they recruited and what are they paid
  • how are staff organised - hierarchically, as teams, etc.
  • every organisation has goals, and creates policies and systems to implement them. What are they, and how are they created (some agencies have goals set by the government)
  • how does it generate income/money
  • how does it spent its money, and on what
  • how does it gererate any other other types of energy
  • who (if anyone) cares about the organisation
  • who (if anyone) doesn't like or is negative about the organisation
  • is it a member of any alliances or other groupings
  • what is its semiosis - logos, typefaces, colours, visual images used, etc
  • who always complains about it

This is a useful set of questions to ask about any organisation, both as an internal review for your own organisation, and to look at competitors and major forces in a sector. I offer a service to gather more information about any organisation so that you can communicate with them (and influence them better)

In my case study of the Ministry of Agriculture (DEFRA) from my food and farming study, I selected a key Ministry "Aims and Objectives" text as being the central point of UK Government Food and Farming policy. However, it is also clear that this text was the result of complex process within the Government and Civil Service, and that the text plays a complex role, with organisational dimensions internal to the Ministry and also parliamentary lobby implications, as well as Parliamentary and party political dimensions. As I show in the Case Study, the "Aims and Objectives are 'the tip of an iceberg' of many internal issues and processes.

The Psychology of organisations can also be very interesting.
a). because we are working collectively in organisations, and our mental maps of our organisation are collective, with some individual elements depending on our position and roles within the organisation
b). and because there is such a big difference between INSIDE an organisation, and how things are seen from OUTSIDE.

Using discourse we can work out what an organisation is saying (and thinking). However, many organisations only look at their small corner of the market - their competitors, the technology of their product range, the regulators for their sector, and their own sphere of operations. It may be very important to sometimes take a wider view than this.

Tell me what you want to know !!
I have a wide range of experience, ranging from heavy industry to professional and commercial partnerships (where I routinely evaluated new contacts for a firm of industrial valuers and auctioneers). I have also lived in an intentional community, worked for an international research association, and chaired a voluntary sector environmental organisation. I have a full online biography at George-McNamara.com

Please contact me at george@whatever-will.be if you are interested in the above

(0044)(0) 1372-749803

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