LATERAL COORDINATION Behavior in organizations is often remarkably untouched by commands, rules, and systems. Lateral techniques—formal and informal meetings, task forces, coordinating roles, matrix structures, and networks—pop up to fill the gaps. Lateral forms are typically less formal and more flexible than authority-based systems and rules. They are often simpler and quicker as well.

Meetings Formal gatherings and informal exchanges are the cornerstone of lateral coordination. All organizations have regular meetings. Boards confer to make policy. Executive committees gather to make strategic decisions. In some government agencies, review committees (sometimes known as “murder boards”) convene to examine proposals from lower levels. Formal meetings provide the lion’s share of lateral harmonization in relatively simple, stable organizations—for example, a railroad with a predictable market, a manufacturer with a stable product, or a life insurance company selling standard policies.

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