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Example 1:  Defining an organization in terms of its aspects


A thumbnail sketch, or synopsis of an organization can be produced very quickly by considering each of the aspects in turn without going into the detail of each element. This gives a logical flow to the description, which is easy to read and covers all the salient points.

Identity
Ashley's is a small, specialist retail chain, which is still a private company. It has a reputation for giving customers good advice and selling well designed products with excellent service. The atmosphere in the stores is very friendly and relaxed for staff and customers alike.

Purpose
Very high quality furniture is sold to middle and upper income families. Great importance is placed on cultivating a long-term relationship with its customers. Ashley's is growing in size and aims to expand throughout the UK, but will still base its operation on the values of a traditional family run business.

Structure
At the present time, there are three stores and a warehouse in the south-east of England, with a head office at Walton-on-Thames. Although Ashley's plans to increase in size, the aim is to do this without introducing more levels of management.

Participants
The business is family owned, has a loyal set of customers and has built up a network of small but traditional craft suppliers. It has a strong sense of responsibility towards the local community and is involved with a number of local projects.

Enablers
The stores are well sited in town centres, the staff are very experienced and many of them have built excellent personal relationships with customers. The skills of all employees could do with updating, particularly with regard to the use of computers.

Activities
Emphasis is placed on buying, displaying and selling to high professional standards and there is a training plan in place for all employees. However, activities associated with local charities are taking too much time of some senior managers.

Deliverables
The main products are furniture for private homes, wall coverings and curtains. An interior design service is also provided.

Influences
Being a relatively small business, government regulations are a constant headache. There is also concern that one of the large retail chains is specifically targeting Ashleys’ customers.

Culture
The atmosphere is very much that of a family run business with the senior management taking a keen interest in staff. More emphasis is now being placed on training to give the staff a more professional attitude and image.

Performance
Turnover is £20m per annum with profit before tax of 15 per cent. The company is particularly good at introducing new product lines and its customers are much more loyal than is normal for similar retailers.

An excellent use of this synopsis is as a section to include in a larger report or as a briefing document for visiting executives, officials or dignitaries. The fact that the synopsis is structured and to a standard format means that it is easier to prepare and assimilate than those prepared in an ad hoc manner.
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