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
- What is the main activity of the organisation - does it trade
necessary supplies (companies) or provide necessary services (hospitals,
- 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
- 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
- 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
contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in the