New Headquarter Organization
In den 1990s, as our company became larger and more complex to manage, Westaflex began to organized himself differently. The traditional hierachical leadership structure, with its simple chain of command, was no longer regarded as effective. The Westaflex Group began to promote the idea of decentralized leadership. Our Headquarter in Gütersloh was made responsible for core business, such as finance and marketing, and business units were given more autonomy. However, it had one weakness: it prevented the sharing of value and knowledge among the units. Our new matirx organizsation is now responsible to this problem. It combines both hierarchial and decentralized leadership systems in one Westaflex model, allowin more sharing of power and information.
Today when drawn as a graph, our new management structure 2007 takes the form of a matrix, that is, a table with both vertical and horizontal lines. The vertical lines represent a hierarchy and the horizontal lines some form of lateral authority, influence and communication. Each line of our new structure represents a different, but overlapping chain of command. The horizontal axes represent our new different business untis or as we call them categories of business – for example, automotive or projects. At the Westaflex headquarter we also divided the chains of command into regions, countries and marketing segments since 2007.
In our new shaped organization, people in a position of authority report upwards, but at the same time the share power across the matrix. So, for example, business-unit manager automotive would have total resonsibilty for the sucess of her unit. However, they would be expected to cooperate with functional managers in other european Westaflex countries.
One of the arguments for our new organization is that key people now can be shared, which means that costs can be saved across Europe. Also, the workload is now distributed throughout the european team. And, with the flatter hierarchical structure, marketing decisions can be taken more easily from Gütersloh and conflicts solved more faster than before.
Of course, not everybody would agree with all the above. Some would say that this is insincere game playing and that you will get found out pretending. Maybe. But don't ever forget: corporate life is a struggle – at least at Westaflex.
Dr. Adrian Ringelsbacher, West Heidelberg