This Wildfire Entertainment: Organizational Structure Archetypes case study discusses the history of a fictitious start-up. It looks into the organizational structure of the company in the tech industry. It also tackles the organizational structure archetypes of different levels.
D. Charles Galunic and Warren Tierney
Harvard Business Review (IN1175-PDF-ENG)
May 26, 2015
Case questions answered:
- Describe the context Wildfire Entertainment faced in the early days of its development (why might a single organizational structure not be effective?
- What are the signs of misalignment between organizational structure and strategy?
- What are the pros and cons of the three main organizational archetypes that wildfire used: functional, matrix/hybrid, and divisional?
- In the context of rapid growth, how can a tech-based start-up know when the organizational structure should be changed?
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Wildfire Entertainment: Organizational Structure Archetypes Case Answers
1. Describe the context Wildfire Entertainment faced in the early days of its development (why might a single organizational structure not be effective?)
The early days of Wildfire Entertainment provided its employees a place that was an informal and exciting place to work for. Things were kept simple, and the core structure was formed of project teams, and several of them performed operations simultaneously at any given point in time.
Since the organization was small, with only 40 people, anything and almost everything spread to all in cases of any issues or concerns.
Though things were kept simple and informal, it made the culture “healthy” with shared assumptions about responsiveness, collaboration, and work ethic. Still, without having a detailed organizational structure, this was eventually set to fail in the long run.
And so it happened that when the company started receiving more projects, and with the increased complexity, employees started feeling overwhelmed with the work pressure.
Following a flat or single organizational structure, like the one that was followed at Wildfire Entertainment, the problem arises when no one knows anything that is going on at a level to make an effective and detailed decision.
Without a defined hierarchy, the ones leading the firm will eventually be overwhelmed as the number and complexity of decisions to be made increase.
Also, without following a defined structure, which varies from industry to industry and based on the organizational size, you eventually end up hindering people from specializing and moving forward quickly, as they are trapped in issues and overwhelming work and decisions to be made.
2. What are the signs of misalignment between organizational structure and strategy?
When the organizational structure being followed at any organization does not fall in place with the strategy and goals of the company…
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