A business is the composite of its organizational structure, functional design and process workflow. You can think of the three as the legs of a stool. If the legs of a stool are not in perfect alignment the stool will wobble. If one leg is too long or too short, the stool will collapse under weight. Same holds true for your business. A lack of synchronization among the organizational, functional and procedural designs of a business will, at a minimum, cause disruption in the operation. Too much misalignment, however, will lead to unqualified failure.
How do you leverage the organization, function and process connection for peak performance within your business? The answer lies in establishing the right interplay among the three to keep the business level-set and moving forward. Here are some basic tenets to consider:
Organizational designs should be flatter to promote quicker and more action-oriented outcomes. The idea of needing managers managing mangers only creates bureaucracy and slows decision-making and execution at the frontlines of an organization. Flatter designs that push decision-making to the point of execution enable better performance.
Redefine business functions independently of current organizational boundaries.Break the “silo” mindset by eliminating the artificial restrictions that are inherent in top-down, command and control hierarchies. Rather, consider functional responsibilities that span across a business rather than ones that drill downward from top to bottom.
Enable processes to flow across the functions that comprise the business.Consider designing and optimizing workflow from beginning to end, accommodating the activities that comprise the “whole job”. Approaching organizational transformation work by using an incremental improvement philosophy will yield inconsistent results because workflow improvements often result in little more than kicking the can down the road. A fix in one part of the process creates a bottleneck further downstream. Instead, tackle the whole process when undertaking a transformation effort. By looking at the whole picture, you limit the risk of fixing one part of the process at the detriment of another.
Reimagine job specifications so that the “whole job” can be optimally performed. By creating jobs classifications that include broader roles and responsibilities, including a better understanding of both upstream and downstream work activities, we can lessen the risk of a single point of failure emerging in our businesses and we can improve our organizational capabilities (and bench strength) which enhances outcomes over the long haul.
Shift the supervisory mindset from micro-management of staff to team-based outcomes. This can be accomplished by allowing supervisors the latitude to do what it takes to deliver on expected results. Of course, poor performing employees will still be managed out, but, the emphasis will be on outcomes, not watching what the staff is doing.
Commit to deliberately raising awareness and educating the staff. Awareness raising and education are two separate and distinct activities. Both are compulsory when transforming an organization. Awareness setting of new organization designs, process definition and job responsibilities are essential in gaining staff buy-in and reducing feelings of friction or alienation that often come with change. Education is essential to enable empowerment of your people (as the organization goes flatter and their functional responsibilities grow wider) and to ensure impeccable performance.
To close, flawless execution requires a delicate balance of form, function and practice. You can hedge your bet, and improve your chances of success, by adopting these modest principles whenever tackling a major transformation effort.
This article originally appeared at http://www.inc.com/james-kerr/raising-the-bar-how-to-leverage-the-organization-function-and-process-connection.html