Five Signs You Must Simplify Your Organization … NOW

And what to do about it for instant results.

As I enter my fifth year in the world of consulting, and having worked with many organizations of varying sizes looking at their HR Strategy, Organization Design, Process Excellence Journey, Innovation and Culture initiatives, I find the biggest hurdle in most cases for growth and performance is confined to a very few and basic root causes. As we facilitate Vision, Mission, Goals and Yearly Strategy meetings for our clients year after year, we find them struggling with similar topics but articulated differently.

Few signs your organization needs an urgent review :

  • You see people writing mails to each other with many others in copy instead of speaking to resolve issues.
  • You and your employees are very busy but Effort Vs. Result Ratio looks poor.
  • You and your team blame Matrix Organization or HQ team for slow decision making.
  • Customer says I don’t know whom to speak with, in your organization.
    Employees are hitting the wall with automated self serve answers to their questions or no answer / owner.
  • There could be many more but such examples above are signs of an organization going towards a culture of bureaucracy, decision strangulation and becoming internally focussed instead of serving the customers.

If I were to rinse all these symptoms and look for one single root cause, I would say it is ultimately ACCOUNTABILITY.

Imagine, you are the Regional Business Leader with a P&L responsibility in a multi product/services organization and the organization design makes you accountable for performance and growth but not enough authority to make the decision because of a matrix organization structure. In a large organization addressing this issue is almost like boiling the ocean.

I have seen many Regional Heads who use their charm, give and take, influence and their ability to navigate internal organization to get stuff done. But this is where the problem lies. It is not your organization’s design, but the ability of this Regional Leader to work around the internal beurocracy which is making things happen. Contrary to popular belief where I have heard CEOs and CHROs praising the Regional Leader’s capability because they DON’T TROUBLE YOU with issues, I believe this is incorrect and not sustainable. It is poor use of this capability getting wasted on internal topics instead of a customer issue.

So, What can you do about it …

You can align the culture of your organization following few very simple principles. Focus on aligning the organization through these WHY, HOW AND WHAT actions based on the role people play.

  • CEOs and Senior Leadership team should focus on WHY. This is your Vision, Mission and Direction of the company. 80% of senior leadership time should be spent on articulating, emphasizing and clarifying WHY we do what we do.
  • Functional Leaders and team members of enabling functions should focus on HOW This is the role of your functional teams which work on the process aspect. They should define how certain things need to be done in the organization.
  • P&L Leaders, Operations team should focus on WHAT. This is where day today action happens. P&L leaders who demand support for the actions in response to a need they want to get fulfilled.

Now to again give you another example, as a P&L Leader, you want to grow your business in Africa and therefore need people to be hired in various countries in Africa (WHAT), ask for this need to be fulfilled by HR team and allow the (HOW) to be tackled by them. If you want your matrix organization to work seamlessly, just follow the principles of WHY, HOW and WHAT.

I have seen a large part of organization design issues coming up from the tendency of CEOs to jump often in to WHAT and HOW making second line weak. P&L trying to dictate the HOW because they mostly own the budget. And Functions or CoEs not having the courage or sometime the expertise to enforce HOW.

The CEO and Leaders actually have only one job. Provide the context and “Walk the Talk”.

I know that implementing this require us to build the entire ecosystem and supporting mechanism but if you are able to identify the problem correctly, you have won half the battle.

Would love to hear your thoughts.