Change Implementation Techniques for Creating a Sense of Urgency

Technique 2.58 Authority/Productive Matrix

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Organisational systems define workplace behaviour since they set the limits within which people carry out their work. They may be authorised or unauthorised, and the behaviour they generate may be productive or counter-productive to the organisation.

Types of systems

. Authorised system - this is an organisational system which is formulated by an accountable role incumbent. The system is formally accepted by the authority structure. The system is open to reviewing and monitoring by a third party, and issues are expressed as a written statement. The fact that it is authorised does not necessarily mean it is effective or efficient.

. Unauthorized system - this is a system operating in the organisation, established by one or more people who are not accountable for doing this. The system is not formally endorsed by the authority structure of the organisation. However, many unauthorised systems are effective and efficient.

. Productive system - this is a system, which by its design and implementation, allows the production of goods and/or services in a way which is consistent with the goals of the organisation. Productive systems may be authorised or unauthorised.

. Counter-productive system - this is a system which, as a result of its design or implementation, is inconsistent with the goals of the organisation. Furthermore, it detracts from the efficiency and effectiveness of production of goods and services.

. Authorised and productive system - these systems are designed effectively and are working the way they are intended to work. They have been authorised by the organisation.

. Authorised and counterproductive system- these are systems which demonstrate the acceptance of inefficiency or unfairness. In doing this, the organisation has accepted working conditions which are inefficient. Some of these systems are regarded as being in the " too hard" basket. They need to be identified as authorised but counter-productive, and changed.

. Unauthorised/productive system - these systems cut corners, eg by-pass safety regulations or do not follow operating procedures because they are inefficient, or difficult to follow. These systems are not always negative. They may indicate cumbersome or bureaucratic systems or ones which are difficult to follow. Furthermore, they may indicate poor training, poor design or poor understanding of the consequences of not following set procedures. These systems are worth investigating to see if they can be authorised or if they indicate changes need to be made to other systems.

. Unauthorised and counter-productive systems - these are really dangerous systems and processes in the organisation. They are generally covert and designed to work against the purposes of the business and are hidden and denied. These systems may involve sexism, racism or dishonest practices, and can lead to favouritism and nepotism backed up by harassment and intimidation. In some organisations, these systems remain hidden because of the pressure not to "grass" or "dob someone in". If condoned, they promote an alternative leadership structure based on power, not authority or style

It is the work of the manager to design and implement systems which demonstrate to employees that the system is fair and honest, and has the employee's well-being at heart.

If the authorised systems are poorly designed and perceived by employees to be unfair, dishonest, untrustworthy or to not have the employees' well-being at heart, then alternative unauthorised systems will develop in their place. These will be designed and operated through a power structure rather than the authority structure of the organisation.

The aim is to create systems which influence employee behaviour in such a way that the employees are motivated to achieve company goals. This then changes the work emphasis of management to systems design and modification. Furthermore, this approach ensures that systems are authorised, are implemented effectively, and continue to work the way they are intended to work. If they become unproductive, they need to be changed in relation to other systems, goals, vision and mission statements, values and strategy.

Thus, the task is to allocate different activities to 1 of 4 quadrants of the matrix (authorised or unauthorised that are either productive or unproductive), ie

organisational development change management

The aim of the exercise is to change the allocation of the following activities that are

Unauthorised but productive to authorised and productive

Eliminate or reduce all unproductive activities

organisational development change management


i) acceptable

ii) areas of change

iii) positive opportunities for change

iv) must be addressed and challenged

An example






Shortcuts, etc



Go slow, etc




Abuse of expense accounts, etc


Problems associated with systems design


. Systems are often designed at too low a level

. System designers tend to underestimate, or even ignore, the significance of values

. Implementation of any system, or change of an existing system, will have an impact on beliefs and therefore on values

Systems design criteria

. Clear, concise and understood purpose statement

. Clear system description with

- boundary limits and a process description

- clear authorities and accountabilities for operation of system

- clear statement by the owner of the system

- clear linkage and interface with other systems

. Control mechanism as part of the system

. Audit/review process to measure effectiveness in use

. Clarity about whether the system is one of equalisation or differentiation

. Clarity about beliefs - current and future

. Description of theory of the system, underlying assumptions and expected outcomes

. Cost-effective, productive and allowing appropriate exercise of discretion

(source: Ian Williams, 2001)


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