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Organizational positions, organizations, organizational units

To understand who manages the resources of an organization (premises, equipment, and especially the labor of other people), organizational responsibility structures are introduced in organizations: some people are superiors to others. But, of course, it is correct to think of agents in this case, and in the case of legal "supervision" - "individuals." For example, you cannot fire an agent (a person) in the position of "general director of a joint-stock company", even if you are the owner of a controlling stake in the shares. You need to convene a general meeting, which will elect a new general director. But you can appoint your own organization by this same meeting of shareholders to the position of "General Director of a Joint-Stock Company." The general director in a joint-stock company is called a "sole executive body," but no one said that this should be a physical/human person! So you appoint your organization as the general director of the joint-stock company, and then inform the employees of the joint-stock company that your junior janitor Vasya Pupkin will carry out the role of the general director on behalf of your organization - Vasya Pupkin presents your order to the employees of the joint-stock company and starts performing his official duties as your organization's junior janitor, that is, carrying out the work of the general director of a joint-stock company.

Why make it so complicated? If you need to replace Vasya Pupkin with someone like Dasha Mirkina, you can do it at two in the morning by issuing your own order within your organization. Then Dasha Mirkina arrives at the joint-stock company, gets there by three in the morning - and announces that they should now follow her orders, not Vasya Pupkin's, because she is now the sole executive body of the joint-stock company, she is now the general director. And Vasya Pupkin? Well, he continues to work in your organization. The benefit is that you can change the general director of the joint-stock company in a couple of minutes, rather than through a multi-month procedure of convening a general meeting of shareholders. This is a completely workable scheme - the RA0 "IES of Russia" used to manage the activities of its regional energy companies in this way, which were also joint-stock companies but subsidiaries and dependent. If any of the directors disagreed with the opinion of the managing company, they were removed from their position in a matter of hours, not months, which the organization takes to convene an extraordinary meeting of shareholders, even if you own 100% of the shares.

So, remember: positions are not about roles, and not even about people. These are organizational places where various agents work, performing various roles. And this is about appointments, dismissals primarily, and then about subordination in terms of work assignments. That's it, except for the fact that the name of a position means nothing, but it can be nice to the person holding that position. For example, in a small enterprise "Empire," the sole governing body is not the general director, but the "emperor." It costs nothing if you are the owner of the company, but the title of "emperor" can be nice to the person holding that position.

Organization - an organized (i.e., with clear authorities and responsibilities for managing labor and capital) group of agents with buildings, structures, equipment, consumables, raw materials, cash, etc. at their disposal. But the main thing is resource management: a fundamental knowledge is available to all organized agents about who::an-agent-in-an-organizational-place/position can ask someone::an-agent-in-an-organizational-place/position to do something::work-as-practice, and this request must be fulfilled, refusal leads to proceedings and may serve as grounds for dismissal.

Organizations introduce organizational places/positions/vacancies (sometimes called positions in the staffing table - not to be confused with role positions from the previous section). The structure of positions/organizational places determines not the role structure, but the structure of subordination, accountability, the ability to ask someone to do something, to pay someone, to obstruct someone from doing something, to allow someone to do something. In the theater, these are actors responsible for playing some roles that will be assigned to them later. First, Vasily Pupkin is accepted for the position of actor and thereby receives the authority to play roles in performances, and then the actor is assigned to play the role of Prince Hamlet in daytime performances, then also assigned to play Othello in evening performances (and the performer in the position of actor plays two roles), then Vasily Pupkin is dismissed, and in his position (after dismissal vacant - a vacancy, a place) Petr Sidorov is accepted, and these roles of Prince Hamlet and Othello are already played by Petr Sidorov.

People in positions and people in roles- that's different. People-in-positions - about subordination-accountability, including a promise to carry out work and actual work execution, while people-in-roles - about work methods. Usually, from the position, you can not understand how people in that position work, although the positions may sound very similar to role names, so you will not immediately understand what is being discussed. The position "programmer" can be occupied by Bogdan, who performs the role of a technical writer of English documentation, improves methods of technical writing and believes that writing programs in programming languages is already boring for him and that he will never work as a programmer again in a role (not a position, the position does not worry him in this sense - it's about salary and title, not about the content of work).

Employees in an organization can be asked not about everything, but if you request an employee to perform an action according to the expected role in the project, the request will be fulfilled. The essence here is that positions and roles are not dependent on each other: they are assigned separately, often several roles are assigned to be executed by agents-in-positions/organizational places, and then the agent gets into that position, thus they are expected to perform all the roles, assigned to that position. If the position "chief alpinist" is linked to the roles of "caver", "chemical analyst", "helicopter pilot", then replacing Pavel Andreevich with Ilya Nikanorovich in this position means that Ilya Nikanorovich starts performing works using speleology, chemical analysis, and helicopter flight methods (thus, it is expected that he would master the performance of these methods). At the same time, it is absolutely clear (from the structure of subordination) who will be the chief of the "chief alpinist," and therefore - the chief of the agent occupying the position.

It is necessary to distinguish clearly:

  • positions - it is about requests and obligations (hence "position", but often also about "place") in the execution of works tied to the roles assigned to the positions. About role works (related to the consumption of resources works with instances of some objects, for which authority is needed), not methods/functions/ways/cultures of work (for which skill is needed).
  • roles - about work methods primarily, professional competence/qualification/"degree of mastery" of performing works according to the method of that role by an agent who will play the role (occupy a position to which the role is assigned), role/labor/operational crucial characteristics of some method-worked roles in systems (subjects of interest) and preferences in the values of these crucial characteristics (interests).

Dealing with people is always complicated. If we talk about positions as primarily about resources, it is also the concept of "position," which means a normative duration of paid work in that position for a period (often per month, but sometimes it can be a week or even a day, or even an hour - then they speak of a weekly rate, a daily rate, or an hourly rate, for instance, $300 per hour can be an hourly rate of a lecturer in a foreign university). "Working at one and a half rates" usually means spending one and a half times more time than usual in the agreed position, and receiving one and a half times more payment. Of course, one can hold several positions at the same time ("sitting on two chairs at once" - remember, a position and an organizational place are synonyms).

A filled vacancy/position/organizational place assigned by a person gives us an organizational unit/organizational entity. The minimum organizational unit is composed of one person, and if we talk about a "half-rate" (and in universities, to give some formal authorities for lecturing without paying a salary, they sometimes provide an 1/8 rate), it is not "half a person," but "one full person, but in terms of the work duration can count on half the usual weekly work time for all roles linked to the position."

Organizational entities can be combined, forming both departments (permanently operating organizational units) and collegial bodies (temporary, only convene from time to time councils, commissions, working groups), and project groups engaged in achieving some results.

Usually in staff tables (lists of vacancies), there are no collegial bodies and project groups, precisely to emphasize their relative autonomy in subordination, as well as the non-standard method of rewarding - although this absolutely does not mean that no one has the right to assign them some tasks, requiring the execution of certain work roles and expecting the manifestation of role interests/preferences, and that no payment will be made for the work within such an organizational entity. But let's reiterate: relationships of subordination/leadership separately, role/subject/professional attitude to activity - separately.

The minimum organizational entity consists of an executor, considered simultaneously as

  • an-agent-in-position (meaning their subordination/accountability and rights in leadership/management of labor and property of other organizational entities, including how their work is paid). This is about operational subordination, management, supervision. This is a line of organizational construction.
  • an-agent-in-role (meaning what work method is expected, there are expectations for their professional mastery to work using this method, their subjects of interest and interests themselves are understood, and thus expectations can be built on what their actions will be according to the role). This is about professional/functional supervision, governance (which translates as "watch," but not "management"), and there is no talk about subordination. But if, along this line, the adherence to the method is performed incorrectly, the agent will be removed from the position - and no leader will help them.

And here it is good to understand that the language of this conversation about the organization (when it's clear who can ask whom to do something and why these requests will be fulfilled) is not very applicable for talking at the level of communities, societies, and humanity at large: in communities, it is unclear who can request what from whom, requests (if such exist) are strictly voluntary. In societies, there may be an organization (state) that does not perceive its citizens as property but tasks are usually associated with extortion: a direct threat of violence if the task is not fulfilled. If you are asked to come to the draft board, and you don't want to - then you have no option to "quit." If you are asked to pay 13% of your income, there is no option not to fulfill the task, and quitting is not that easy, "pay taxes and sleep peacefully" is indistinguishable in this respect from extortion, if you do not adhere, force will be applied to you, which will not happen in business or communities.

Therefore, be careful in using our course recommendations at these levels: communities and societies. Systems thinking, of course, is quite applicable at these levels, but it's not guaranteed that you will be successful in its application right away. System thinkers have not yet worked out these levels in terms of quick thinking about them and reliable engineering methods for creating and developing societies and communities to teach you how to work with communities and societies quickly and efficiently. Well, and always remember that if you want to do something with communities and societies, each person (and AI agent) there does not necessarily yearn for you to manage them, and vice versa - they would be happy to manage you if they had the opportunity. Therefore, such projects are usually utopian. Yes, some people become presidents and prime ministers and influence the lives of millions of people, but calculate the percentage of these living gods from the total population of the Earth and assess the likelihood that you will be among them in your life. Do not engage in utopian projects, do not waste time on them. You can perfectly improve the lives of millions and millions of people without having them directly under your authority - neither in terms of positions nor in terms of state power lines.