Fundamental Forms for Favorite Sports

Henry Mintzberg Blog – TWOG

Henry Mintzberg Blog – TWOG

If there is no best way to organize, how many ways can there be? Four. For starters, at least; in fact, there are as many ways as there are organizations, as we shall see.

There are times when we need to caricature reality to sharpen its differences and so better understand it. A limited number of forms can help us do that for organizations. The four discussed are labeled the Personal Enterprise, the Programmed Machine, the Professional Assembly, and the Project Pioneer.

Think restaurants: the corner diner, a fast-food franchise, a gourmet dining room, a catered event—four very different ways of delivering the same service. One revolves around a single person, the owner; the second is fully programmed; the third relies on the skills of its chefs and others; and the fourth is customized, as a project. In the natural world, compare a troop of monkeys with the alpha male at its head, a flock of geese flying in formation, ants scurrying around doing their own thing together, and a family of beavers building a dam. But clearest of all may be how these four forms play out in sports.


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