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Berkshire Advisors' approach to organizational assessment is systematic yet also reflects the art of organizational design.
Approach To Conducting Organizational Reviews
Organizational alternatives should be evaluated based on their value in supporting efforts to achieve organizational goals. Berkshire Advisors approach to conducting organizational reviews focuses on value. The objective of an organizational assessment is to maximize the value the structure creates in supporting a local government’s efforts to achieve its goals. Costs of management and supervisory personnel are weighed against the value they create. Likewise recommended changes in relationships within the organizational structure focus on increasing the value these positions create.
Our approach focuses on fundamentals. Rather than beginning our analysis by evaluating the current structure and identifying ways it might be changed using traditional measures – for example, by evaluating spans of control or assessing the pros and cons of functional, geographic, or matrix structures, Berkshire Advisors begins the analysis by focusing on fundamentals. We work with clients to articulate why organizational structures are needed and what they are intended to do. These organizational purposes provide an framework for evaluating organizational alternatives. Starting with a "blank sheet of paper" we then develop a number of alternative approaches to organizing the entity being evaluated. The practicality of each alternative is assessed and alternatives that are unlikely to be implemented are eliminated. We then use the evaluation framework to assess the value each of the remaining organizational alternatives creates and weigh that value against each alternative's costs. On the basis of this assessment a recommended organizational structure is selected.
Benefits
Taking this approach has a number of benefits:
  • Focusing on fundamentals and starting with a blank sheet of paper when conducting our analysis ensures that a range of structures that have the potential to be beneficial will be considered
  • While designed to consider the possible the approach is grounded by what is practical – structures that are sound theoretically but would prove too difficult to implement are winnowed out
  • Of the practical alternatives, the alternative that will create the most value for the local government in supporting its efforts to achieve its objectives will be selected
Relevant Experience
This approach was used in our organizational reviews for the City of Olathe (Kansas) and Little Rock (Arkansas).
Olathe, Kansas
Study objectives included developing an organizational structure that positions the city for future success, provides a framework for guiding how the city does business, and supports efforts to develop a financial and management infrastructure that links resources and results, enhances accountability, focuses the attention of managers on how to enhance value for the Olathe community, and promotes substantive discussion about how to match the level and type of services offered with the city’s ability to pay for those services.
Key approaches/analytical tools Interviews were held with the city manager, assistant city manager, all members of the city’s leadership team, and service excellence team members. An on-line was completed by members of the city’s leadership team and service excellence teams.
Key recommendations: An evaluation framework was used to assess organizational alternatives. The first step in developing the framework was to assign a weight to each organizational purpose that reflected the relative priority that should be placed on the purpose. This framework was used to evaluate each alternative in a consistent manner and to assess – using the overall composite score – the extent to which the organizational structure is consistent with the city’s overall organizational priorities.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Services provided: The purpose of this study was to review the current organizational structure of the City of Little Rock and individual city departments. Study objectives included developing an organizational structure that is aligned with the city’s priorities, enhances accountability, focuses the attention of managers on how to efficiently provide services to the Little Rock community, and promotes substantive discussion about how to match the level and type of services offered with the city’s ability to pay for those services. The scope of the study included the office of the city manager, department directors, and managers who report directly to department directors.
Study outcomes: An evaluation framework was used to assess organizational alternatives. The first step in developing the framework was to assign a weight to each organizational purpose that reflected the relative priority that should be placed on the purpose. This framework was used to evaluate each alternative in a consistent manner and to assess – using the overall composite score – the extent to which the organizational alternative was consistent with the city’s overall organizational priorities.