Monday, August 25, 2008

How to design more effective organizations.

Most organizations just sort of happen - they were first created to reflect ideas and practices that existed at the time they came into being, and they've seldom been rethought and re-architected as the years have gone by. So as they've become bigger and more elaborate, they've also become slower, less responsive and less efficient. For the past 30-years, I've been helping companies understand how they're currently put together, and then make new choices that are a better match to what's happening in the present business environment.

Here's an outline of the design steps I've used. I'll cover each aspect of this process in the weeks ahead.

Start by getting agreement at the senior management level on:
- a statement of purpose - what the business will be designed to achieve in the future
- business strategies to achieve that purpose
- a list of the five or six key employee behaviors needed for success
- a statement explaining how the business will be operated, and
- a set of structural guidelines for the design process.

Does the business aspire to be different than its competitors? than others in it's industry? If so, where, how and why?

Describe what it will be like to work in the redesigned business. Provide specific examples:
- here’s how "this" is done today
- here’s how "this" will be done in the future

Department heads then each develop plans for their own areas:
- what will be included in their departments, and thus under their control?
- what will they depend on from others?

Next, make choices in each area about who will do what and who will report to whom
Eliminate tasks that don’t add value and avoid creating dead-end jobs

Identify the most significant sources of variation in getting work done on-time and according to specifications
Make plans to eliminate or control these variations and to maintain the integrity of the process

Determine the flow of information – who will know what, when and why
Decide how employees will be recognized, rewarded and paid

Present all these plans and design decisions for other department managers to review
Modify specific arrangements based on feedback received

Test design decisions for consistency with the operating values and with the design guidelines developed at the beginning

Does anything else need to be modified based on experience to date?

Things we can feel good about…
Things that still need some work…

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