(This is Part III of a three part series on the Performance Plus Planning System which focuses on the Four P’s – Plan, Platform, Process, People, to create synergistic accountable organizations.)

 

Each of the architectural elements plotted below warrant their own detailed explanations, however, in this article I am attempting to provide only the “framework” to build a prosperous integrated business operation capable of achieving Next Level Accountability.  

THE PROCESS

A Leader must insure his team distinguishes how to operate with competence and consistency in order to harvest a level of “competitive:” quality which outstrips the anticipations of

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clients.  The Team must appreciate “who does what when” and possess the competency to produce impregnable outcomes.  The formation of a rock-solid Plan and investment of a superior Platform is squandered without a proficient, smooth, trustworthy, Process to carry it out.

Process improvement is one of the most conversed necessities for any business attempting to advance performance.  A pure and present Plan and an organizationally supportive Platform momentously intensifies the likelihood that Process improvement will have an evocative and enduring impact.

Reengineering and Continuous Process Improvement programs employed by a fixated Leader require a company-wide effort to scrutinize all tasks and their relevancy in achieving Strategic Goals.  Team based approaches which gather information, seek out solutions and accumulate buy-in should be used as an imperative portion of Process Development.

Since most organizations lack resources to apply a complete re-engineering approach, Leaders must look at set systems and develop Processes generating more resourceful and operative results.

As a part of the planning process, measurements should be developed to determine progress to the plan.  A Leader must also fix metrics that can be effortlessly and habitually monitored for results of the Process Improvement Program.

The Process

Re-engineering

A Leaders commitment to the continuous advancement of Quality is indispensable to long-term Customer Value Proposition.  Involvement and solutions for these advancements should be pursued throughout all expanses of the company.  Process Leaders should acquire proficiency and usage in Kaizen based events to ascertain and implement these improvements.

A Street Smart Leader preserves an “external focus” on improvements which are driven by customer needs to pilot the organization to a leading industry position. The conveyance of a performance based organization must be cultured continuously to insure costs are driven down and the competitive position is enhanced.

Quality improvement programs should be examined to determine if customer satisfaction is the driving force behind any new processes and ideals.  An introverted quality program that focuses only on reducing costs without regard to customer impact will produce a company which profitably goes out of business. The effectual organization is able to conceive methods of accomplishing more with less.

The Re-Engineering

Systems

Deliberations of Systems tend to be framed in terms of information processed on computers and through the Platform Structure.  But often much of the information vital to the realization of an organization’s project or strategic plan is processed through a multiplicity of people and offline systems.  These offline systems can vary to a wide degree depending on the individual in control, possibly creating serious fissures in productivity and quality.

Often these online and offline systems are treated as separate entities resulting in a “disconnect” throughout the entire process.  Leaders must work with their teams to map both process types into one all-inclusive exploration.  Once this is completed all team members involved will now understand the entire picture.

Understanding where online systems and offline systems intertwine with each other is a Leaders first step setting the groundwork for process improvement.  Once understood, he can then begin to construct connections safeguarding check and balances are built-in to the systems to prevent the “ball from dropping” thus creating true widespread organizational productivity.

The Systems

Metrics

The establishment of a resilient Metrics program conveys accountability upon an organization.  Performance gains are based on knowing where one is starting from and where they desire to go.  Comprehensive Measurement is the best methodology to track and communicate headway.  A Leaders challenge is in determining what to measure, how to measure it, and what the results really conclude.

Developing a “root cause” mentality from the onset of Strategic Planning sets the stage for determining what to measure.  Your team will focus attention and effort in the areas the company measures.  Therefore, it is imperative to insure Measurements support goals directly without creating conflict within the organizational factions.

Leaders should concentrate Measurements in the areas of Quality (external measurements), Productivity (internal measurements), and Growth (financial measurements).

The Metrics

THE PEOPLE

A Leader’s greatest Plans, Platforms, and Processes will spiral into a tailspin without an A-Team in place.  And probabilities are, his customers will notice it before he does.  Becoming a performance based organization is reliant on people strength at every position within the organization.

Team members must unmistakably apprehend the big picture strategy and their roles within it to realize triumph.  The quality of their character, drive and skills must consistently meet the highest standards.  And the Leader must generate and sustain a workplace in which team members surpassing these criteria excel to heightened levels of personal and professional culmination.

A-Players are the “competitive advantage” of the future.  The ability of a Leader to attract the “best” and provide them with ongoing inspiration is reliant on a Vision and Plan which is stimulating, a Platform that does not get in the way and a Process which allow the A-Team to deliver superior results of which they can be proud.

People focused Leaders must evaluate the capability, drive and character of their team.  Leaders also need to assess the future probability of success each team member is likely to attain in the organizations “next level’ and determine if they are adept to “step up and grow”.  The cultural elements that positively and negatively affect performance must also be evaluated and acted upon by the Leader.

The People

Roles

The performance based organization desires to recognize the needs of customers more piercingly than customers themselves. They not only strive to comprehend what is imperative today but also what will be compulsory tomorrow, and the day after.  Leaders must work with their teams to see they become ultra-sensitive to the essentials of the customer.  As management, sales, and marketing uncover customer desires a system must be in place to disseminate this information throughout the team so that all team members accept responsibility for satiating these requirements.

Every team member must become personally engaged in customer fulfillment.  Each team and function must apprehend the customer’s needs and be devoted to delivering only the best they have to offer; not only understanding their role but also the role of others who they are responsible for functioning with and supporting.

Leaders must instill in their team that performance based service must be recognized as an imperative consequence everyone partakes in.  It is not just the job of some other department. Politics, the Blame Game, shifting and other disastrous behaviors must be sought out and eradicated.  The “common goal” of delivering Customer Value Proposition must be the focus and stand as the pinnacle for company integration.

The Roles

People Quality

A performance based organization must be strenuously unyielding in communicating the Customer Value Proposition to each team member.  Education and training must be carefully planned to insure all team members are capable of conveying customer value.  This training and education must go beyond job function and include elements that teach team members about the needs and requirements of the customer from their perspective.  Teams should then be given an understanding on the company as a whole and how each area’s goals contribute to the Customer Value Proposition.

There are many ways in which to communicate, train, and educate employees, from formal classes and seminars to on the job activities.  The strongest bond in developing team involvement is to have a strongly oriented performance based culture that creates a tidal wave of positive attitude towards the company’s Mission and wins.  A Leader must lay the foundation for this cultural strength.

World Class Organizations demand the best from each team member.  For this phenomenon to perpetually renew Leaders must be committed to the personal and professional development of each team member.  A learning environment must be created in which team members feel free to grow their careers without risk.  At the same time it must be understood that performance problems will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly and professionally.

People Quality

Morale

The most effective plan will not flourish without stout Team Morale.  Perhaps nothing is more telling of the climate of the company’s culture than to perform an employee audit.  Leaders should look for outside assistance to perform a credible audit as a part of the internal analysis.  Leadership should address problems creating low morale before long-term performance improvements are affected.  In areas where Leadership cannot enact changes due to external forces (such as challenging economic times), strong internal communications and support should be provided to fortify the understanding and acceptance of the team.  No organization can move towards “being the best” without a exceedingly motivated work force.

The culture should be one that strives to deliver the Customer Value Proposition.  It should strive for internal effectiveness and constantly search for areas of improvement.  Since quality of work becomes a reflection of the quality of working conditions, a Leadership must commit himself to providing top working conditions for his A-Team.  Everywhere quality becomes the top priority for delivering value.  Team members should have a fundamental understanding of the importance of the customer and the direct correlation of the customer’s fulfillment on their personal career and future prosperity.

The Morale

Developing proficient Processes and building a fantastic A-Team of People allows a Leader to catapult off of the prodigious Plan and Platform they have developed and achieve previously undiscovered summits as a Performance Organization.  Leaders capable of building an organizational architecture on the principles of the 4Ps will establish an enduring, prosperous, and mounting organizational model.  The Performance Plus process is a comprehensive hands-on approach into your organization’s depths to gather information, solve problems, create new ideas, and discover breakthrough possibilities while directly leading your people “into the fold”.  A Street Smart Leader knows the Performance Plus Process is about realizing results.  In striving to create Next Level Accountability, he moves past the conference room “feel-good” banter and materializes real Deliverables to propel his Performance’s progress and Teams success.

4P Deliverables

THE PERFORMANCE PLUS SYSTEM

NEXT LEVEL ACCOUNTABILITY

The Performance Plus System

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(This is Part II of a three part series on the Performance Plus Planning System which focuses on the Four P’s – Plan, Platform, Process, People, to create synergistic accountable organizations.)

 

Each of the architectural elements plotted below warrant their own detailed explanations, however, in this article I am attempting to provide only the “framework” to build a prosperous integrated business operation capable of achieving Next Level Accountability.     


THE PLAN

Building an impenetrable organizational architecture originates with the development of the Plan.  The construction of a cohesive interconnected Plan establishes the underpinning of a framework which all future decisions

Planning

can be grounded upon.  With a robust and resilient Plan an organization can productively move forward toward the attainment of innovative and sophisticated goals.  With the exception of the “lucky few”, every successful business I have ever known has inaugurated its growth cycles and built future opulence through an unswerving devoutly managed Planning Process.

Leaders must collaborate with their A-Teams to cultivate a comprehensive Plan so the organization comprehends why it is in business in the first place.  Establishing a Vision pinpoints what the business “will be” and what it should be endeavoring to deliver to the marketplace.  Next, a sturdy Strategy should be created to provide a business track that is clear and provides significance to the effort of performance based activities.  The efficacy of the Strategy should be centered on driving internal Tactics toward external Benefits to the customer.

In mounting an operative Plan, an assessment of customer value should be amassed to focus and prioritize the organization’s deliverables necessary to attract and retain customers.  Strategy formulation must be persistently reevaluated to insure it is aligned with the emerging needs of customers and is incessantly placing the organization in a position of competitive advantage.

The Performance Plus key to success is in the implementation of your plan.  Objectives and initiatives must be set with accountabilities and timelines.  Integration of Tactical plans is the crucial element to the Plan’s overall success.

Let’s take a look at the three structural elements of the Plan: Vision, Strategy, and Tactics.

The Plan

Vision

The facades of Vision and Mission have become central thespians in the false piety we are accustomed to these days.  But courageous principled Leaders sustain the practice of these tools to powerfully direct and stimulate their organizations.  A vibrant Vision of the company clearly and precisely affords an understanding of what your business is all about. Establishing the elementary principles of how you are going to accomplish your Vision defines the Values of the organization.  Without Values in place, the company is unable to induce clear and directional decisions based on the long-term prosperity.  For the Plan to flourish, Leaders must be prepared to become walking, talking exemplifications of the company’s Vision and Values.

Building on the Values of the organization, a Leader should proceed to composing a Mission Statement. The Mission Statement’s resolve is to provide a directional beacon that shapes and guides business Strategies. Through an efficient definition of the Mission, Leadership is enabled to determine the Unifying Goals which inevitably bring strategic factions together in a comprehensive progressive resolution.

The development of Visions, Values, and Missions, provides the organization with a Strategy compendium from which to create a performance based organization that creates Value for the company, its employees and customers.

The Vision

Strategy

A Street Smart Leader understands the prominence of “Culture” in satiating the customer and he is resolved in shaping the values, beliefs, philosophies and understandings of his team. Therefore, he must create a performance based program which surpasses slogans and converts his values to a “way of life”.  The goal is to lead people to not only “talk the talk” but “walk the walk”.  Without the proper determinations devoted to Culture, Leadership is fighting an arduous battle in creating change. The proper Culture for a performance based organization concentrates on the human element of the business.  Factors such as inspiration, enthusiasm and morale are major opportunities.

The Strategy articulates to the organization what is compulsory to accomplishing the company’s Mission.  All employees in the company must fluently appreciate each Strategic Element.  The Strategy should provide an interrelated concept that allows different teams and functions to accomplish collective goals together. And each Strategy should be centered in the significance of conveying incomparable Value to customers through action oriented deliverables.

A Leaders goal is to generate balance within the Strategy between short term goals and long term requirements.  The Balanced Scorecard, developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton provides a focus on establishing objectives that meet the customer, financial, internal and growth perspectives.  When each of these perspectives is kept in balance with the others, an organization avoids the trappings of short term gains at the risk of long term exposure

The Strategy

Tactics

Tactical Plans create the linkage between Strategy and Action.  Leaders should base each strategy/tactic link or initiative on a “cause and effect” relationship to gain root level sustainability.  With this structure mindset Leaders are able to methodically disaggregate each strategy with a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and create the building blocks for successful strategy implementation.

The execution of Tactical Plans should next be plotted and reviewed to insure cross-functional alignment exist between organizational factions.  Most importantly, Accountability must be driven into the plan through assigned responsibility and timeline stipulation.

“What gets measured gets done”.  A key to the development of a thriving Plan is in deciding what to measure and how to measure it.  Once the proper metrics are determined, they must be communicated to everyone in the organization and a meaningful review process should be established as a tool for Leadership to monitor the Plan’s progress.

 

The Tactics

 

THE PLATFORM

The most ingenious Plans are doomed to catastrophe if they are not bed-rocked on a solid Platform which supports the fluid implementation and sustainability of Strategic Initiatives.   Without a solid Platform day-to-day operations become sluggish, ineffectual, and impotent leaving a diluted and discombobulated workforce struggling to perform.  Any attempt to build a high performing organization must be predicated on a fundamentally stable and flexible network of interconnected systems which provide sustenance to the strategic drivers.

Leaders committed to building superior performance based organizations dedicate energies to systemize their customer offerings.  This is best accomplished in preparing an integrated methodology that drives a prolific deliverable Platform.  All the Mission, Values, Strategies, and Process elements will not achieve a dynamic organization without each of these components functioning in tandem with each other.  The implementation of a Strategic Platform is the most impregnable method to establishing a framework for an integrated solution.

The relationship between the cross functions of your organization must be analyzed and investigated in developing an integrated framework.  Department Silos must be torn down and barriers to the synergistic workflow and common interest eliminated through a restructuring of the organization to meet strategic goals.

Beyond mere organizational charts, the Platform also includes technologies and policies that affect the daily interaction of employees and the manner in which they accomplish assignments.  A Street Smart Leader reviews the organizational structure, technologies, and policies to ensure alignment and provide an infrastructure capable of supporting the Strategic Implementation.

A reliable, productive, and enduring Platform is based on the elements of Structure, Technology, and Policy.

The Platform

Structure

Structure is made up of the networks of people, physical facilities and resources that support the delivery of customer value.  This is where most expenditure in performing organizations takes place. The development of the structure must be carefully planned along with other strategies.  A structure built with solid principles set in the Values and Missions from the Leadership is a main ingredient in establishing the performance based Culture.

Leaders must generate an integrated approach to performance by building the Structure as an important entity within the organization.  A powerfully concentric Structure provides an organization with a resilient competitive advantage.  An enlightened Structure is built around essential customer fulfillment and is capable of quickly reacts to changing marketplace demands.  It also increases the company’s growth and profit prospects by capitalizing on existing potential and creating new business revenue sources.

A Leader committed to maintaining margins while providing customer value must take careful steps to insure the Structure is an efficient and effective organism.  He must implement a program that is suitable to the needs of customers and at the same time create a highly flexible Structure capable of dealing with any economic shift or new customer demand. A poorly managed infrastructure that is haphazardly providing costly service can drain company profits and threaten the competition position.

The Structure

Technology

Technology is no longer the differentiator we once depended on.  Available to everyone at a relative cost it has become a commodity in the business world.  In most fragmented industries, major systems development for the delivery of services does not exist and few independent solutions have developed, leaving these industries highly dependent on people skills to get the job done.

This, however, does not mean that technology does not play an important role in the accomplishment of improved productivity and customer value.  Rather the alignment of business systems with people systems becomes a key integration opportunity.

An effective Platform drives coordination from your back end systems, PC applications, processes, and people skills into a productive and value drive solution by taking the pieces apart and putting them back together in an innovative order.  Leaders deficient of substantial gains in this area are forced into having their employees working “for the technology” instead of towards the attainment of company goals.

The Technology

Policy

An effective Leader apprehends the importance of setting pure unswerving policies and compulsory standards which can be easily understood and communicated to his teams.  The establishment of policies and standards provides the organization with touchstones reinforcing the organizations Mission and Goals.

The performance based organization must stretch beyond internal processes when striving to improve productivity and quality.  Improvement on the service front is only truly defined and measured by the customer.  Policies and standards should be based on customer fulfillment criteria.

Your teams must understand the correct path to be taken in ambiguous situations where the rules are not exact.  Policies are the “glue” which keeps a Leader connected to the needs of his customers, employees, and shareholders.  They require serious thought and deployed properly, set the stage for Next Level Accountability.

The Policy

The creation of an unconquerable Plan and an unshakeable Platform are the foundations for a Performance Organization.  Leaders who possess the insight to develop and implement these key architectural elements provide their organizations with unsurpassed competitive advantages.  Not only do they strengthen their product and service offerings but they build an environment where A-Players excel in their pursuits. Our recent challenging economic times have resulted in the “shelving” of Strategic Plans and has left many Platforms tired, ragged and in need of an overhaul.  Leaders are confronted with rebuilding these foundations through unstable and unpredictable times ahead.  A Street Smart Leader will devise methods to beat the competition off the line by not waiting for the economic turn.  He will innovatively exploit the scarce resources available and initiate the rebuilding process now!

(This is the Introduction of a three part series on the Performance Plus Planning System which focuses on the Four P’s – Plan, Platform, Process, People, to create synergistic accountable organizations.)

As a young manager, I engulfed every business book I could amass with a voracious appetite. I was determined to master my craft and ascertain knowledge at a rate outpacing

my years.  The gurus of the time fascinated my interest and fostered my ambition.  I envisaged the day when I would be able to mark major initiatives, beyond my localized teams, with the concepts of strategy, marketing, customer service, and organizational structures which enthralled me.  As my roles expanded and my responsibilities grew into executive management realms, I eventually realized my place at the table where guiding and driving decisions about the company were formulated.  As a Leader, it was now my duty to construct the essential decisions which would shape our future.

Consultants often brought with them abundant theories to be deployed for the improvement of our business issues. But over time, I came to rely more on my direct experience as a “business operator” to increase performance through specific and actionable plans followed up with impactful execution.  In developing overall strategies it became vital to set foundations, implement strategies and systems and then train management teams to become effective directors of these programs ensuring short term challenges were met while setting the building blocks for the long term vision.

Through the years, I developed my own methods of organizational architecture for building stronger, more robust, more results driven companies.  With each success these systems evolved into a comprehensive architectural planning program for the development of a synergistic business unit.  The result is a Planning Tool I have dubbed Performance Plus which strives to drive Next Level Accountability through the development of the “Four P’s” –Plan, Platform, Process, and People.

Integrated Organizational Architecture

PERFORMANCE PLUS – Performance Based Service Organization

 The Performance Plus Model strives to build a Performance Based Organization as the preeminent defense against competition.  Nothing else can realize long-term growth and profits in the way a steadfast relationship with customers can.  Inventions and technological advancements are quickly tracked by the competition.  Lower costs are a never-ending duel constantly being pursued in the marketplace.  Superior marketing efforts will not compensate for inferior products that are not supported at every turn.  Even new product development becomes yesterday’s news and fails alone to “attract” a customer following over the long term.

As a Leader you must mold your organization to deliver the highest quality products bundled with incomparable customer quality if you are to position your company for permanency and prosperity.  Performance based service can become the “make or break” component for any industry.  For the company that excels at fulfilling the requirements of its customers, customer satisfaction becomes an offensive weapon allowing the organization to define the industry standards and their place in it. The Leader that decides to sit back and wait for the game to be defined by the competition and then follow minimum expectations is assuming a dangerous and vulnerable position.

Ron Zemke, co-author of Service America, states “extensive research leads to the obvious conclusion that those organizations willing to commit to superior customer service, profit on the bottom line. Those unwilling or unable to meet that standard do not and will not thrive – and possibly may not even survive.” Therefore the question becomes not one of whether a Company should strive for service excellence but how to properly go about it.

Planning and prioritizing – setting strategic and tactical plans – understanding the characteristics and elements of performance based service – implementing strategy with employee support – timing and available resources – These and many more are the decisions that need to be carefully planned and implemented by Leaders. It is an ongoing tough challenge in which a company’s culture must be able to undergo necessary transformations.      

Many Leaders understand the powerful impact of performance based service to the overall quality effort of providing the customer with a Total Value Proposition.  Tomorrow’s successful organizations must tear down the distinction between product quality and service support. Strong Leaders will integrate these concepts into a homogeneous organization focused on the customer while meeting corporate objectives.

 

TODAY’S ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGE

 Leaders are facing a turning point in organizational development.  As industries emerges from the severe recessionary impact of the last few years pressure will be placed on organization to deliver higher volumes of sales at lower margins on the product.  It is necessary for the models that have existed for years to change if they are to survive.

 Over the last several years customer knowledge of the supplier process has improved, placing further pressures on the supplier for higher levels of performance while at the same time expecting the best pricing the market will bear.  Clients are becoming less attached to product standards and shifting towards decisions that provide perceived value at the moment of purchase.

Leaders must compete in a future environment of driving volume, reducing margins and providing excellent customer service.  The following organizational capabilities must become core competencies in developing the model of the service driven company of the future.

  •   Ability to power Growth and Profit.
  •   Creation of a plan clearly identifying to all employees where the company is going and how it will get there.
  •   Balance in the planning process to ensure short and long term goals are accounted for.
  •   Cause and effect methodology that will take the strategy past the “talk” and into action mode.
  •   Defined tactics and accountability to deliver real results.
  •   Structural alignment to provide a platform for success.
  •   Teamwork to create meaningful and lasting change.
  •   Improved process flow for better service and efficiency.
  •   People strength to gain a competitive advantage.
  •   An integrated Management Team with shared responsibility, working together to reach all organization goals in unison
  •   Reach the “next level” Accountability and gain a competitive advantage driving market share and customer loyalty

INTEGRATED ORGANIZATIONAL ARCHITECTURE

 Leaders must build a program which founds a synergistic connection integrating an organization’s Plan, Platform, Process, and People.  Programs focused on creating vision and accountability through significant cross-functional results will determine today’s competitive advantage.

 The lack of success in the implementation of performance based service architecture is often in moving forward without a plan for the introduction and integration of each step.  Leaders often get excited and rush forward in a ready, fire, aim manner.  The strategy must been seen as a complete effort.  If viewed as a set of individual tasks, gaps appear in the system through which customer’s needs, productivity and employee satisfaction fall.  If goals are disjointed in the organization, internal workings become confused and departments fail to understand the entire picture.  The focus must persist on the overall goals and refrain from the mentality of task specialization for efficiency.

 Many improvement programs have yielded disappointing results due to fragmentation or focus on achieving specific economic outcomes without a linkage to the organization’s overall strategy.  Breakthroughs in performance require major change in the measurement and management systems used by an organization.  Being more competitive and capability driven cannot be accomplished by merely monitoring measures of past performance.

 Leader’s ability to move employees towards working together in harmony ensures customer quality is delivered, shareholder return is maximized and employee satisfaction continually rises all at the same time.  The achievement of this balance propels organizations towards lasting performance and the ability to reach the “next level” of success.

Performance Plus System


It is Time for Leaders to unshackle the survival mode of the last few years and begin to aggressively embark on developing the Strategic Strategies that will propel their growth and profitability forward in the next economy.  When building an organization for competitive effectiveness a Leader must focus on Plan, Platform, Process, and People.  Each of these structural cornerstones must be properly planned, integrated and implemented if a company is to be successful in both the short and long run.  Today’s Leader must be capable of dealing with the immediate needs of his business’ survivability while constantly working towards the “big picture” strategies of tomorrow that will insure stable, replicable performance.  A Street Smart Leader knows when the Four P’s emanate to generate a holistic, result driven accountable business model, many other P’s spring forth such as Profitability, Prosperity, Popularity and Perseverance!

Time and again we are bewildered by strong and capable managers beleaguered in their attempts to achieve organization results.  These managers may have painstakingly built

The Blame Game

an A-Team of rock-solid performers and advanced dazzling plans with effective implementation, yet the fruits of their labor continue to evade a prosperous outcome.  When “good people do the right things” without achievement, vexation sets in and the “Blame Game” activates.  A Leader’s proficiency, causes, communication, and energies all come into question as frustration builds and the organization lingers in a downward spiral towards disaster.  When the A-Team is efficiently stalking the right plan without results, rather than find fault, a Leader should look towards the Structure of the Organization.

Structural problems can be some of the most testing to solve.  An organization’s structure is often deep set in years of subterranean unquestioned paradigms.  Structural tribulations can become such a monolithic impediment that even in the face of its delinquency most Leaders cannot start to fathom the idea of changing it.  An overhaul of the Organizational Structure is a colossal undertaking not for the faint of heart.  But as long as it remains scathed and broken all other attempts to improve performance are only temporary Band-Aids doomed for long term failure.

Structural problems usually raise their ugly heads in the form of Organizational Dysfunction.  Prevalent organizational dysfunctions, such as caustic internal competition, bottle-necked workflows, and fractionalized self-interests become mainstream currents throughout the organization.  Managers build their power base by successfully fighting for the benefits and domination of their own groups, willingly forsaking the well-being of the entire organization.  If this is the case with one manager, a bad apple exists.  But if virtually every manager within an organization seems to be at “locked horns” with each other, the Organization Structure requires a stark assessment.  A Street Smart Leader knows you cannot run the right plays from the wrong formation.

Un-Accountability - The Blame Game

The most widespread creator of organizational dysfunction remains the antiquated “departmental” structure.  I immediately become suspicious of a company structure when I hear employees using the expression “department” over and over again throughout the daily discourse.  Sales department, operations department, order entry department, service department, accounting department, marketing department, and all the rest of them are the code words for a stifled and frustrated organization.  Departments imply groups of people which are separated by function from each other for their particular purpose.  This separation generates a sightlessness which prevents each department from realizing the comprehensive advanced organizational functionalities which are essential such as growth, customer retention, and profitability.  Departments establish a configuration where those within the department strive for the department’s achievement as the paramount objective.  “I’m okay as long as my department is doing its job”, is the mantra.  Communication, vital information, and knowledge are repressed from other groups to be used as competitive weapons in the games of political capital and personal power.  Although we have been aware of the unhealthy consequences of departmental structures for decades, they continue to persist in organizations everywhere.

The principal problem with departments is what has been called the “Silo Effect”.  This term comes from the imagery of looking at a row of grain silos stacked next to one another.  Information, cooperation, and workflow must rise up through the top of one silo over to the top of the next one and then down inside of it.  In simple terms, a group of employees requiring the assistance of another department must first go to their Department Manager who then negotiates with his counterpart Manager before engagement becomes operational.  The Silo Effect creates a myopic environment in which employees only concentrate and comprehend the tasks within their immediate jurisdiction.  Their inability to see the whole picture causes them to believe that their isolated tasks exist in a vacuum unrelated to a larger, more vital goal.  Typically those working in departments are encouraged to focus on the objectives of the department’s success.

The Silo Effect - Departmental Structure

Since a Department Manager is responsible for constructing a successful department, they become very protective of their group permeating the conception that the other departments are the enemy.  Enhanced gamesmanship and political choreography stimulates a Department Manager to maneuver his group to gain a stronger “image” than the other departments.  These mounting Fiefdoms subvert the goal of real performance and diminish the reality of the “external” competitor.  Since the Department Manager is in control of every activity which enters and leaves the department a culture of unaccountability prospers within the department’s employees.  They begin to rely on their manager to tell them what to do and when to do it.

The problem inflates when Upper Management places department-based incentives in front of the Department Manager as a reward system.  Now the Department Manager is financially rewarded for making sure their group comes out on top regardless of the overall organizational effectiveness and success.  This scenario routinely causes such a high degree of political infighting that Upper Management ceases to focus on vision and strategy and relegates itself to the role of managerial referee.

Department structures are hierarchical and their basic structure.  Work flows in a vertical up-and-down methodology which is controlled by the Department Managers.  Ask to see most company’s Org Chart and you see the basic philosophy of this hierarchical structure which has been so embedded in our minds.  Leaders they must recognize that this archaic organism destroys the progressive mind share which is necessary for success in today’s highly competitive and advanced environments.  Leaders who are serious about creating a cohesive structure where A-Team Players can thrive must realize the negativity spawned from the departmental philosophy and strikeout to eliminate the very idea of “department” from every aspect in the business.  “Department” is a dirty word.  Do not even allow the use of it within your organization.

As a Leader you must tear down the divisive walls which block the cross functionality of your organization.  Good Leaders build structures which allow cooperation and information to flow without the need for management intervention.  Strong structures focus on the “delivery systems” of your goods and services to your customers while providing the company with a profitable outcome.  They generate a cohesive platform where different functions must come together to create a unified solution which results in an incomparable success.  Leaders are not the gatekeepers of work product rather they are the facilitators of workflow.  Today’s Leaders can find innovative success in denouncing the power coveted department roles of the past and embracing a larger, more momentous responsibility of establishing results across the limitations of traditional functional boundaries.

Cross functional work teams have been used over the last several decades to create a holistic approach to attain project success.  Members from different functional disciplines have been pulled from their daily responsibilities to participate on teams with multiple skill sets to improve a particular area of performance.  Originating within the Japanese models of Continuous Process Improvement, these methodologies have continued to evolve in today’s Six Sigma programs.  In many of these programs the managers send a member of their department to the process improvement meeting to be led by a Facilitator while they sit back continuing to manage from their power base.

Most Leaders compartmentalize this improvement process and fail to explore the opportunities it presents as a permanent Organizational Structure.  Cross Functional Structures take the traditional hierarchical model and transform its vertical silos into horizontal systems of self-managed workflow.  It removes managers from their role as the “Ruler” and challenges them with the responsibility of “Facilitator”.

A Cross Functional Organizational Structure begins with the focus of customer needs.  Various disciplines which support the needs of the customer are then teamed together as Strategic Business Units.  Each member of the business unit is accountable to work together with the other members of the team to plan, shape, and complete the team’s work for their customers.  The blame game terminates as each member of the cross functional team equally shares the responsibility for the accomplishment of goals.  As a Leader you have replaced the infighting of departments with a customer centric business unit which must work together if it is to be successful.  The Teams become protective of their customers and their results.

Accountable Organization - Cross Functional Structure

The ability to employ a Cross Functional Structure throughout your organization will also greatly flatten your management ranks.  Understanding customer’s needs, setting goals, and then expecting teams to deliver on those goals builds an Accountable Organization which is non-reliant on parental style management structures.  And as an added benefit you will find Cross Functional Structures are scalable.  In good times and bad you only need to add and subtract teams.  Teams also become “used to” each other creating “soft” efficiencies and “automated” communication which increase productivity.  Finally, C-Players, who often find hiding places within departments, are quickly exposed through peer pressure once they are on a team.  This places an upward pressure for managers either to get people “up to speed’ or replace them.  Believe it or not, your business units actually make firing decisions for you.  Cross Functional Structures produce lower structural costs, higher accountability, and stronger players.  A win – win – win!

As Facilitators, your manager’s focus shifts from empire building to team building.  Their focus is on improvement and progress.  They are able to manage daily work on an “exception” basis, getting involved when a Team asks for help.  And they are able to spend valuable time supporting and growing the A-Players within their discipline.  Cross Functional Structures allow managers to become Leaders.

It may seem a daunting task to consider the revamping of the Organizational Structure you have lived with for years.  But as a Leader in today’s economy you are challenged with creating a Customer Value Proposition which lowers cost while improving deliverables and quality.  It is a waste of time and a neglect of a Leader’s responsibilities to be the referee of the Blame Game.  If you believe you have built an A-Team of people and results are lacking while frustration and politics are increasing, it is time to examine your structure.  An effective Leader will understand the needs of his customers and the goals which must be accomplished for his company’s prosperity.  A Street Smart Leader will shape the organizational structure around these needs and goals to form an Accountable Organization.  He knows that A-Team players are success driven and have no need of protection, politics, or babysitting … they just need someone to help knock down the walls so they can do their job.