Misfits of Organizational Design

According to Burton et al (2011)., the concept of organizational design does not have to be a world of abstract and disconnected elements. In their book, Organizational Design: A Step-by-Step Approach, they lay out a clear process of identifying different elements of an organization and how these elements contribute to four different organization types which operate in harmony. In their approach to organizational design, they discuss the dangers of misfits, or misalignments, in an organization’s design.

Misfits are organizational elements that are found outside the organization type that is predominant with other elements (Burton et al., 2011). For instance, if a majority of organizational elements are found in Type A, but leadership style is found in Type B, then it is considered a misfit. Misfits are dangerous, because they contribute to an environment that is out of harmony within itself across the organizational elements. Since all of the elements contribute to the culture of an organization, misaligned elements can create a culture that is in chaos, but when these elements are in alignment the culture is in alignment creating harmony and integrity for the organization (Ershova & Hermelink, 2012). A culture in harmony is particularly important when it comes to transformation since no successful change can be implemented without change in the minds of people in the areas of misalignment (Ershova and Hermelink, 2012).

Symptoms of misfits, or misalignments, can be an overload of the executive orversights of people leading to diminished performance for the firm; individuals are not aware of what to do and are given directives that hamper rather than facilitate coordination; decision making and communication backlog increase; adjustments to foreseen challenges are not timely; or work requires excessive amounts of hours with little results (Burton et al., 2011).

What misfits is damaging your organizational culture currently?


Burton, R. M., Obel, B., & DeSanctis, G. (2011). Organizational design: a step-by-step approach (2nd ed). Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ershova, M., & Hermelink, J. (2012). Spirituality, administration, and normativity in current church organization: an empirical study of the organizational culture in three church denominations, under conditions of social change. International Journal of Practical Theology, 16(2), 221–242.


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