Many chief executives initiate a substantial reorganization during the early stages of their tenure. for some companies, reorganiations become a seemingly annual event. No one has any idea what the updated organization chart looks like, because it is changing so often. Does all this reorganization add value? Probably not. One recent McKinsey and Company study concluded that only 16% of restructurings could be characterized as an “unqualified success.” Similarly, Bain and Company found that most reorganizations do not generate improved results. Why do leaders enjoy redrawing the boxes and lines on the organiation chart so often? Frankly, it's easy to do. Taking other types of actions to enhance performance can be much more challenging and time consuming. Too often, leaders choose the easy path, despite the proven lack of efficacy. Somehow they think that their firm will be different.
Confusion and ambiguity hamper productivity in these organizations that are constantly changing reporting relationships. Moroever, people become frustrated by the disruptions to work processes and routines. Wharton’s Peter Cappelli compares serial reorganizing to prescribing antibiotics very frequently for minor infections. You might alleviate the pain at that moment, but harm the patient over time. Cappelli notes, “The constant churning caused by these reorganizations generates costs and develops long-term cynicism about why they are done and what they mean.”