We all go about things in our own way, right? We’re all individuals expressing ourselves uniquely, and the way we act or react depends greatly on our individual personalities and internal processes and methods.

Most of the time, let’s say even the vast majority of the time, like 99% of the time, our own way works just fine for us. We get through life—how we interact with others, how we make decisions, how we respond to our social environments—just famously.

However, something important must be acknowledged: If I work in my own way, that means everybody else works in their own way as well! And I simply can’t get through life without other people. Check out a previous blog, Other People, for an in-depth discussion of this blatantly obvious fact.

 I’ve discussed interacting with others for benefit in previous blogs. Now I am turning to Deciding and Achieving. What THEE illustrates is that, in general, there are seven basic methods for deciding and achieving. Let’s take a look at the structuralist, from the inside and out.

Inside the Structuralist 

Deciding and achieving stems from authority and organization. 

An organization should be a series of roles, duties, or posts. Really, it’s less about people and more about function. Individuals hold posts with a specific job to do and necessary authority and sufficient autonomy to complete that job. 

 Each person is one piece in an intricate puzzle designed to function in a specific manner and achieve a specific goal. Everyone is a part of a hierarchy with recourse to someone higher in the chain of command that will hold them accountable to their duties. 

This way, people know what is expected of them and they know how to go about doing it. If they can’t perform their tasks, you simply replace them with someone who can. 

Organizations must be systematically managed and staffed with people of the right capability and the necessary expertise to deliver the mission efficiently. Frankly, anything else is just chaos. 

Who is this? 

 If this appeals to you, you might be a structuralist.

You work well when your job description is clear and laid-out in front of you like a map to achievement. You are among the many people who work well in a structured, hierarchical environment where there are clear pathways to advancement and promotions.

You like things to run smoothly and you like knowing what to expect. You are efficient and on schedule.

You would probably do well in a government agency or the military where your hard work, adherence to policy and procedure, and dogged efforts would be noticed and appreciated.

Outside the Structuralist 

If you’re reading this and thinking: “No, this is certainly not me,” don’t fear.

Structuralism is but one of the seven Decision Approaches.

 If you aren’t a structuralist type of decision-maker, well you handle decisions in some other way that you are convinced is generally best. And how you view this preoccupation with problems, facts and best solutions will be dependent on that.

 For example:

  • An imaginist might think of the structuralist: “There is no room in this system for human creativity and ingenuity. People are secondary, reduced to numbers on a roll sheet. Individuals will eventually feel stifled and constrained.” 
  • A systemicist might think: “Your rigidity will eventually be your downfall. What happens to your policies and procedures when the environment within which they operate changes?” 
  •  A pragmatist would possibly muse: “The perfect solution or action could be staring these people in the face and they would have to ignore it in favor of some pre-established policy.” 
 It is important to realize that structuralist methods work very well for many people and many organizations. It is common amongst CEOs. You will likely run into a structuralist in one or many of your endeavors within an organization. It’s good to know how they operate so you can work well with them.

That’s why, if you aren’t a structuralist, it’s good to understand them.

Check back next week for the imaginist.

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