Organizational Realignment—Big 12, er 10 style

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If you’re a college football fan, you’ve probably heard the rumblings about realignment and the rise of super conferences. And if you live in Texas, you’re stuck in the middle of a 100+ year Hatfield and McCoy war between UT and A&M.  With A&M’s decision to bolt the Big 12, taking the league down to 9 members in mid 2012, there’s little doubt that the landscape of college football is about to go through some severe reorganizational pain. Such a tremendous shift in what were seemingly stable organizations 5+ years ago, shows how quick organizational dynamics can be poisoned. If tradition and home state rivalry can’t save the Big 12 from self serving behavior, what can.

The Big 12 shakeup provides a lesson that can be applied to a host of other sports related situations (BCS anyone?  Or even major league baseball).  In addition, I continue to think about how similar the Big 12 situation is to corporate reorganizations that I participated in or assisted as a consultant. Specifically, I’ve thought of the companies that struggle with the very concept of reorganization. I’m not talking about small realignments where a new person takes over a group or you reallocate resources to a different client account.  Rather, I would prefer to examine impactful reorganization that makes for a better situation in the long term for an entire division.  Either in terms of performance, productivity, revenue, culture…whatever the metric is to evaluate the impact.  This type of reorganization is often met with resistance, panic or even apathy do to the frequency of previous reorgs.

In the Big 12 case, the parties are making decisions to improve what they see as an untenable situation. Modern corporations should do the same when considering consolidating management levels, shifting resource allocation, offshoring, etc.  But, at the same time, I don’t think the end result of A&M’s decision and the resulting realignment will be bad for the majority of the participants. Sometimes things are broken, and they must be fixed.  If analyzed effectively, planned out and executed, they can lead to the same beneficial outcome I see for most of the Big 12, er 9, er 8…in the long run.

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