Organizational Growth Initiatives
I read a recent blog post by Brad Power entitled “Get Your Operations in Shape by Focusing on Process.” Though not a process person myself, I agreed with the four processes identified by Power as critical to effective organizational development and growth. However, I found myself feeling that the tone of the blog focused far too much on the autocratic, or top down management style, that simply is less effective in today’s collaborative work environment.
As a result, I would like to re-list the four processes identified in Power’s post with some editorial license of my own that reflects my philosophy of a more collaborative, empowered team, and organizational oriented approach to growth:
1. Strategy Development and Deployment (setting priorities and alignment, coordinating and controlling resources):
Power: “Through command and control (e.g., plans and budgets), they [leaders]steer the organization…To improve operations, employees at all levels must understand the company’s priorities and be able to translate them into their daily mandates. To achieve top-to-bottom alignment, leaders at each level must explain to employees the strategy and its implications for their jobs.”
Cooke: The organization team, at various levels, must be engaged in the strategic planning process. Besides the customer, no one knows the business better than and organization’s employees. This is the knowledge based that facilitates a more effective information gathering and strategic outcome. Plus, at implementation it improves the process and enhance the alignment process.
2. Performance Measurement (establishing reviews and determining compensation):
Power: “Companies that stay operationally fit focus on process performance and assume that financial results will follow. Their top executives monitor a dashboard of operational measures that track performance from the customer perspective, such as percentage of “perfect orders” (on-time, full order as promised). They translate these measures down to all levels in the organization. These firms tie bonuses to these shared operational measures.”
Cooke: Incorporating measurement tools defined by the people who actually do the work and know where the challenges are facilitates a more effective quality control system. Nothing is measured “down”; everything is simply measured throughout the organization.
3. Talent Management (hiring, training, and promotion):
Power: “Companies that excel at process performance focus on customer value and organizational learning. They promote people with demonstrated success in improving processes. They also elevate employees who coach others and build their skills. Managerial skills are developed by addressing problems on the job, not in a classroom. Working with their manager as a teacher, they reflect on lessons learned. Appraisals are open.”
Cooke: Managers who are committed to and actively work with their team as teachers in the trenches are to be recognized, rewarded, and aggressively developed as leaders in the organization.
4. Operational Problem Solving:
Power: “When operational problems arise, many senior executives’ first reaction is to assign more people to the problem area — to work harder. Problems are usually kept quiet. If adding people doesn’t work, their usual next step is to charter a project to fix the problem. They assign staff experts and often hire external consultants.”
Cooke: When problems arise the last action of a senior action is to simply assign someone a task to fix it. This is where an effective leader rolls up their sleeves and engages their team in a thorough understanding of what it wrong and how to fix it. Problems are kept quiet because no one wants a bunch of people messing with their problem and not helping solve it.
Processes only work best when the people who know the most and actually do the work are part of the planning and innovation component. The misnomer in business is that for leadership and management are responsible for getting people to embrace the strategy they developed. That is autocratic, top-down thinking and it is not how teams come together. Involve the organization in the entire process and the results will improve significantly.