Why are some organizations highly effective, while others fail utterly?
In a rigorous attempt to answer this question, psychologist Elliott Jaques (1917–-2003) developed an insightful, integrated and comprehensive system called Requisite Organization. Somewhat controversial to the mainstream ideas of organizational development, he defends hierarchy as a natural and efficient form of social organization. Organizational dysfunctions can be traced to poor structure that prevents employees from working at their full potential. A properly structured Requisite Organization can release energy and creativity and improve morale
In a Requisite Organization, the hierarchy reflects the complexity of problem solving. The greater the complexity (level of work) in a role, the higher in the organization should the person in the role be. A simple measure of the level of work is the time span of discretion in a role – the longest task for which one is held accountable. The longer the time span of discretion, the higher the level of work.
As simple and straightforward as this may sound, decades of research support the notion. It also bears intuitive relevance – the task delegated by a manager cannot span a longer time period than the task the manager himself is responsible for. Jaques maintains that the role complexity increases in specific steps at time spans of 1 day, 3 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and 50 years. These breakpoints stratify varying kinds of work into natural layers, or “strata???, in the hierarchy.
A role falling into any given stratum should report to a role in the next stratum up. When roles are placed requisitely, an organization is likely to function effectively. When they are too close or too far, dysfunction is inevitable. Problems also arise when a person is in a role at a level higher or lower than his or her current capability or when there are too many or too few layers.