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The Discipline of Organizing (The MIT Press) Hardcover – May 17, A framework for the theory and practice of organizing that integrates the concepts and methods of information . It provides an exemplary model for rethinking the core library and information curriculum . Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase.
Table of contents

Do not hesitate to take large time blocks for important tasks. Be sure to allow enough time for each task, but not too much time. Build in flexibility for unexpected events. Include some thinking time for yourself. Consider how to make waiting and travel time useful or otherwise productive.

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Try to match your work cycles to your body cycles. Learn to control your unscheduled action impulses. Prepare tomorrow's schedule before you get to the office in the morning.

Structures: Centralized versus Decentralized, Line versus Staff Working productively and developing feelings of cooperation and effectiveness are related to having the right people doing the right jobs. Structure, then, can be defined as a system of interrelated jobs, groups of jobs, and authority.

There is no standard organizational structure, but most organizations and agencies follow the "Christmas Tree" system with the star e.


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Some would claim that the lower branches support the upper branches, but as in the tree, the branches are supported by a single trunk, which can be thought of as the organizational mission and objectives. Each part of the tree has its specific function. When all parts work together, the system survives, functions productively, has balance, and is a pleasure to see!


  • The Discipline of Organizing: Core Concepts Edition, 4th Edition!
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  • There are four primary elements in designing an organizational structure: 1. Departmentalization - the grouping of jobs and responsibilities in common sectors with the objective of achieving coordination 3. Span of control - a definition of how many job roles should be in each unit and which roles require coordination by a unit manager 4. Delegation of authority - assigning the right to make decisions without having to obtain approval from a supervisor The resulting organizational structure will vary according to these four elements.

    An organization with decentralized authority and very heterogeneous departments will appear very different from one with centralized authority and a very homogeneous product. Thus authority flows from presidents to vice-presidents to divisional managers, from ministers to deputies to directors, from principals to vice-principals to deans, etc. In complex organizations, there may be bridges from one level to another and there will be complex procedures for maintaining the chain of command. Adult and extension educators, if working for an organization or agency, will be part of a structure and part of the chain of command.

    One cannot often make major changes in these two elements; it is wise, however, to be very aware of the organizational structure and chain of command if you wish to accomplish things efficiently. Centralized organizations are those in which the key authority and decision-making role is focused on one or a very few individuals. Where authority is distributed among many managers, then one can see a decentralized structure.

    As the organization's various roles become more diverse in terms of programme, product, or geographical location, one can see a more decentralized organizational structure with authority being delegated to those who are closest to the action. Centralization refers to authority, whereas centrality refers to the proximity to the organization's stated mandate and objectives. One could have a very decentralized organization with each unit being responsible for programmes, staffing, and budget, and yet be very close to the main mission and objectives of the organization.

    Another important point in terms of structure is the concept of line and staff functions. Line functions are those involved in creating, developing, and delivering a programme.

    Julie Thompson Klein

    Staff functions are those that are of an advisory and consultative order. Line functions contribute directly to the attainment of the organization's objectives, and staff functions contribute indirectly. Staffing A key aspect of managing an adult and extension enterprise is to find the right people for the right jobs. Much of one's success as a manager is related to appropriate human resource planning, regardless of whether it is the hiring of a secretary or an instructor for a particular work-shop. The staffing function consists of several elements: 1. Human resource planning - how many staff resources, with what backgrounds, and at what cost can be considered for objectives implementation?

    Recruitment - how does one proceed to find the person with the appropriate mix of education, experience, human relations skills, communications skills, and motivation? An important component of the recruitment process is writing the job description.

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    The description must be exact and specific but sufficiently general to solicit interest among potential candidates. The nature of the job, scope, authority, and responsibilities form the core of the job description. Indications of preferred educational background as well as salary range must also be included. In times of high unemployment, one can always expect several dozen applications for any one opportunity for employment. This leads to the next task of staff selection.

    Staff Selection The process of staff selection involves evaluating candidates through application forms, curriculum vitae, and interviews and choosing the best candidate for the specific job responsibility. One can even have a list of criteria and a score sheet for each individual.

    Even then, successful hiring is often a very intuitive act and involves some degree of risk. As a means of giving some structure and design to the staffing process, the following guidelines are useful dark, Each job interview should be characterized by: 1. A clear definition of the purpose of the interview 2. The presence of a structure or general plan 3. The use of the interaction as a learning experience in a pleasant and stimulating atmosphere 4. The creation and maintenance of rapport between the interviewer and interviewee 5. The establishment of mutual confidence 6.

    Respect for the interviewee's interest and individuality by the interviewer 7. An effort to put the interviewee at ease 8. The establishment and maintenance of good communication 9. The willingness to treat what is being said in proper perspective The just treatment of each interviewee Staff Orientation This is the process of formally introducing the selected individual to the particular unit, to colleagues, and to the organization.

    The selected person should be aware of the mission and objectives of the unit, the nature of responsibilities and level of authority, the degree of accountability, and the systems and procedures followed to accomplish the tasks associated with the job. A motivated individual will simply ask for such things as personnel manuals, administrative procedures handbooks, and aims and objectives statements.

    Such orientation tools should be available. Directing At one time there was a management emphasis on "directing" in the directorial autocratic sense, but in recent times, the concept of directing has become more congruent with leading than with pushing. Thus today, directing is more related to leading and leadership styles. Leadership in this context means the process whereby a work environment is created in which people can do their best work and feel a proprietary interest in producing a quality product or service. McGregor proposed that managers might assume that employees are motivated in one of two ways.

    His dichotomy was labelled theory X and theory Y. Theory X relates to traditional management whereby managers assume that they must control, coerce, and threaten in order to motivate employees. Theory Y, the opposite of theory X, suggests that employees want to do challenging work, that they are interested in accepting responsibility, and that they are basically creative and want to be involved in policy development and objective setting.

    Today, theories X and Y don't really sound very revolutionary; the problem is that management styles and employee motivation do not fit easily into two theoretical labels. As a result, additional theoretical labels e. Coordinating This important stage consists of interrelating the various parts of the work. It involves coordinating the various job roles and responsibilities of yourself and other staff, of your unit and other units within the same organization, and of your unit with the broader community.

    There are two forms of coordination: 1 vertical reporting to your supervisor s and to your staff, and 2 horizontal reporting to your colleagues and your management team.

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    Adult and extension educators are usually involved in very complex organizations such as governments, colleges and universities, and boards of education. Because of the size of the organization, the increasing demands for public accountability, the many government regulations and policies, the increasing competition among providers of adult education opportunities, and the changes in technology, it is essential that the coordinating role be given top priority. How, then, can effective coordination be accomplished? Because effective coordination requires cooperation and communication, the meeting technique is still the most effective format for assuring the interrelationships among the various job responsibilities.

    In recent years, formal systems of community coordination of adult and extension education activities have been developed. Such councils of continuing education provide more than just a network of workers but in fact lead to discussions of community needs, agency priorities, and an agreement as to who is going to look after what. Such voluntary coordination does not eliminate competition; it focuses on the multiway flow of information.

    How do you define a learning organization? by Peter Senge, Author of The Fifth Discipline

    Reporting This function, closely related to the coordinating function, consists of keeping those to whom you are responsible informed as to what is going on. It is essential that competent managers keep the information flowing, especially in this age when there is so much information being transmitted in so many forms.

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    The reporting function is more than preparing an annual report, quoting statistics, and informing your staff of current developments. The reporting function is almost an evaluation function since it compares how you are doing with what you set out to do. It reviews your objectives and determines to what extent you are meeting your objectives. It consists of more than course numbers or annual statistics, but relates programme direction, policy changes, refinement in objectives, and changes in structures and priorities.

    It also uses the vertical and horizontal flows of information as presented previously. One of the key elements of the reporting function is the annual report. Such a report gives you the opportunity to summarize programmes, projects, and activities and to provide statistics as well. Such a report can be used as a public information document by having it distributed to other adult education agencies in the community, to your senior levels of management, to your own managers, to your colleagues, and to the press.

    In addition, it will prove to be a valuable document to satisfy the requests you receive asking about your programme activities. Budgeting This management function includes fiscal planning, accounting and revenue, and expense controls. Budgeting requires specific planning, a thorough understanding of objectives and future programmes, a sixth sense of economic conditions and realities, and a hunch for predicting the unpredictable.

    In many cases, an organization specifies the budget system being used. It could be based on 1 historical data what you had last year with variations for the coming year ; 2 0-based data where the budget is created and justified on a line-item basis according to programmes and priorities; 3 an MBO system - management by objectives whereby specific objectives are funded; and 4 a PERT system - programme review and evaluation technique - where each programme is reviewed and assessed according to its contribution to specific goals.

    These are only a few of the budgeting systems in use.