Organizational Structure & WHO are interrelated simply because the WHO (World Health Organization) must have a proper organizational structure because of its organizational nature, work and environment. This issue is extremely important nowadays due to the viral expansion and spread of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19. The WHO leads & collaborates the global war in combating this pandemic. Thus, the question here is about the “warriors” in this fight: is it only the doctors and health care providers? or there are other contributors of extreme importance? We highlight these issues within our discussion of Organizational Theory, Design & Change Book (2013), the 3rd book in your channel “Management with Merits – Manage to Prosper”. In our previous sessions, we introduced this book and started its sessions by highlighting part 1 (Organizations & Their Environment) in our last post. Thus, today we move to part 2 (Organizational Design) and highlight the 1st three chapters of it, which discuss the 1st pillar in organizational design, that is the structure. In addition, in our 1st book in the channel (Management 2015), we discussed organizational structure as part of (organizing), the 2nd managerial function. To access all our posts for this book, kindly click here to go to the book’s dedicated category. To download the associated presentation with this video, please go to the video at YouTube and click on the appropriate link in the description section below the video.
Organizational Structure & WHO : The Design Challenges in Structure
WHO is a huge organization with more than 7000 employees from more than 150 countries distributed within 6 regions, in addition to the Global Services Center (Malaysia) and its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland (WHO Official Website). As a result, it must face serious challenges with respect to designing its organizational structure. The basic concern is how to utilize this huge workforce to operate efficiently and effectively in order to achieve its goals and satisfy the minimum interests of its stakeholders, as discussed in our previous session. Therefore, this basic challenge is called “Differentiation” as per our book, which is the primary structure design challenge for all organizations. It denotes that each and every member in the workforce must contribute clearly and actively to the organization’s success, which requires clear dedication of roles, tasks and responsibilities. Within this primary challenge, the book states 3 more challenges (below shape), which fall within broad continuum ranges. The two edges of these ranges result in two extreme structure styles, which are the mechanic style (rigid & extremely standard) and organic style (flexible & agile). As a reminder, in our organizing function lesson (Management 2015 Book), we highlighted the most modern and unique structural style where no borders or hierarchies exist, which is the Holacracy Style.
Organizational Structure & WHO : Available Choices
As managers make their design choices as above, they come up with various resultant organizational structure types. It is paramount to note here that no design has superiority over others. Each organization must choose the design and structure that best suits its needs, conditions and environments, as well as make continuous audits on it to check its validity and make changes to it as necessary. Some of these types are listed below. With respect to the WHO, it’s evident that it operates globally within an extremely risky and uncertain environment. The sudden burst of Coronavirus demonstrates these conditions. As a result, its structure is more inclined towards the organic style because it gives it the agility and responsiveness needed for its environment and conditions. Besides, it’s difficult to categorize its structure under a specific type. Alternatively, the WHO has a hybrid structure that utilizes the properties of several structures, which enhances its mission and operations. The next paragraph illustrates these points.
WHO Organic – Hybrid Structure :
The conditions, environment, operations and huge size of the WHO require a flexible and agile structure. Such criteria can be obtained by utilizing the organic style. In addition, the organization takes various structural shapes that fulfill its needs. However, the basic structural blocks in the organization are work teams, which are designed as per the services provided (product/service teams). These teams start from the top management that makes up the “Global Leadership Team” up to various services’ and field teams, such as Rapid Response Teams and Medical Care Teams, whose efforts are clearly noticed in the current Coronavirus pandemic. This is one of the most prominent feature of matrix structures.
Looking at other various structural styles in the organizational structure of the WHO, we can notice the following. First, the organograms of the headquarters, regions and countries have hierarchical shapes, but they are flat with few vertical layers and more horizontal layers. The structure is divided into functions (managerial, operations, support, maintenance & adaptive), as per our book (Organizational Theory 2013). In fact, the adaptive functions play an important role in the agility and flexibility of the structure of the WHO. In terms of the divisional structure, as a global organization, the WHO has several divisions as per regions & countries (geographical) as well as the market/customer group served (like health ministries all around the world).
Organizational Structure & WHO : Resultant Efforts in Combating the Virus
One of the results of the adaptive, flexible and agile design of the organizational structure of the WHO is its sincere and clear efforts in tracing, preparing and responding to the virus. Globally, in addition to providing updated info on its website about the virus, it has published the global strategic preparedness & response plan for COVID19. Regionally, this plan has been carefully tailored to the needs of various regions, resulting in custom regional plans. Finally, in the country level, the WHO provides the updated publication of countries’ readiness & response in two scales, preparedness level (out of 5) and response category (out of 4), where you can find the position of each country globally. The last picture below shows these two scales and gives an example of the location of Yemen, the country of the channel’s owner & content maker, which has a position of (2) in the preparedness level (less than or equal 40%) and (2) in the response category (high risk of imported cases).
In conclusion, despite the great role of doctors and health care providers in this war, the role of management, design and structure is extremely paramount as well. Without it, medical efforts alone won’t succeed. Thus, we extend our thanks and appreciations to both doctors and management staff in the WHO and national health ministries. Also, we should do our part faithfully in combating the virus by following the guidelines of quarantine, sterilization and other necessary measures as stated by the official local and international authorities.
That was our session for today. Thank you so much for being with us. Next English session, we will go to the 2nd pole in organizational design, which is organizational culture. Watch and follow us each Thursday on your channel Management with Merits – Manage to Prosper. Please support your channel strongly so that it can continue its glorious mission and services. Subscribe to the channel in YouTube and activate the notifications bell there. Follow us, participate with us and share the channel and all its electronic contact platforms.