Archive for the 'Cross-functional' Category

“You can’t talk to my people” is NOT Requisite!!!

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Question

I’ve heard that principles of Requisite Organisation mean that people can’t talk to people in other teams without checking with the manager first.  This seems to be against all modern ways of working together as an organisation, so just wanted to check in with you as I know you are an expert in this model.

Answer

I’m very glad you checked.  First principles, ‘Requisite’ means ‘what is required’ and in our model, which we call Requisite Enterprise as it uses these principles among others, it’s about designing and leading work so it’s fulfilling for customers, employees, beneficiaries and the planet.

This means that a way of working that causes frustration and disintegration of relationships is never going to be requisite in our model.  Saying ‘you can’t talk to them without checking with me first‘ is therefore obviously not part of what we teach in our workshops and online.

The Managerial Relationship

But…we can acknowledge where this comes from.  We use the Elliott Jaques idea of making managers accountable for their teams serving their customers (internal or external), and so give managers the authority to ultimately decide the way ‘work works’ and who does what in their area if that’s required.  This is called authority to ‘assign’ work.  And we describe the relationship between Managers and the team members using the Jaques term ‘Task Assigning Role Relationships’ or ‘TARRs’.  (BTW…we insist that before decisions managers also get the input of all those effected as an absolute minimum)

It is, however, a mistake to therefore think that this authority to ‘assign work’ means ‘a person may only do work directly assigned by their manager’, or even further ‘only the manager may talk to this person about work’. Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

Cross-functional work – a method for getting it sorted

Sydney-Harbor-Bridge-SilhouetteQuestion:

I was wondering if I might be able to seek your guidance on sorting out cross-functional relationships.  Is there a process you suggest we follow so we can really sort ourselves out so we can be a better organisation for both customers and employees?

Answer

Very glad you asked – getting clear in this area is about not forcing people to rely on favours and politics to get their basic work done.  It’s a service to our fellow humans!

Cross-functional roles, or ‘Task-Initiating Role Relationships’ (TIRRs) as Elliott Jaques referred to them are how work gets done.  We tend to to see the org chart as reality, when it’s actually just a visual representation of who reports to who, and what each person is there to deliver.  In reality all work is passed on to someone, either internal or external – so all work is some sort of flow, which means…it mostly goes across.

This means that it’s one of the fundamental accountabilities of every manager to set up how work ‘works’ in their area.  And a crucial part of this is the TIRRs.

So how do we do this?  First we start with WHO.

We teach in our workshops and our online learning that Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

Getting Real About Freedom

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There’s a huge confusion that’s causing a lot of pain in organisations.  It’s the idea that ‘freedom‘ means ‘freedom from consequences‘.  It doesn’t.  It means ‘you get to choose, and the consequences are yours‘.

Freedom is not liberty or licence.  It’s not escape.  A person becomes free when they are willing to stand up and say ‘this is my situation, I am taking ownership of it, and of whatever happens next.’  The moment this occurs, choice comes back into play.  The boat gets a motor.  The hot-air balloon’s fire-thing starts up again.  We have agency, and it feels good.  Energy.

This is the principle we use when we help our clients with how their organisations are designed and lead….that people want freedom.  They want choice.  They want a level of challenge that pushes them without blowing their minds.  And they would like to know how things work so they can make more informed choices.

Leaders at all levels have the opportunity to give people freedom.  But it’s not always taken.  It’s hard to trust, and decades of high control leading to unaccountable behaviour simply reinforces this, and it’s not just the managers.

So how do we create freedom?

Through conversations and other communication that creates clarity for all on who is delivering what, and how roles fit together.  And decisions when decisions are required so people can get on with it.

People cannot make choices about their own way to get things done if they don’t know what ‘done’ is or how things work.

But above all, this requires a willingness to trust again.  This is the hardest part, and it applies to everyone.  For managers, it’s trust that people will take ownership.  And for employees, that their managers will let them take ownership.  This is the foundation of any successful enterprise.

Clarity and trust.

Pre-requisites for freedom.

 

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

Developing a Strategy? Read This First

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You’re in charge of ‘developing a strategy’.  Perhaps you’re a General Manager, where developing and delivering strategy (what work, why that, and why us) is the key part of the job.  Or maybe you’ve been assigned the task because you’ve put your hand up, or you’re an agitator, or someone wants to see what you can do.  Or perhaps you’ve been asked to bring together the ubiquitous ‘cross-functional team’.

So what do you do?

Convene! 

Strategies are developed by convening gatherings of people who want to be there, then having real conversations about possible futures.

They’re not developed by working through a process of identifying the current situation, by doing a SWOT, PESTL….whatever.  These things might be useful to identify things to talk about, but they come at a cost, which is the implication that the process will reveal the strategy.

It won’t, and here’s why.

Real strategy, as in strategy that actually happens, is created by people imagining what might be possible, then making the choice to create a new future.   Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

GM of Operations? You might like to try this…

Are you, in one form or another, a General Manager of Operations?  In the US you might be VP Operations.  Either way, if you are in an Executive role, and you have any accountability for delivering the products and services to your customers…then you might be interested in giving this a shot…

Wander over to your friends (or enemies) in the Marketing area and ask for a copy of every current advertisement and promotion that’s out there.  In particular, anything with a sentence, ideally, advertisements by video or radio.

Now call an all-hands meeting with everyone in the Operations area, and play the ads.  That’s right…play the videos, run the radio ads, big screen, loud speakers….and  have everyone in groups note down their understanding of what is being promised to people should they become a customer.

Then point this out – these promises are operational requirements.  They aren’t optional extras, they aren’t arguments to be used to show how unreasonable the Marketing department is….these are the dead-set requirements that Operations is being asked to deliver.  And even better, deliver within a certain budget.

To not do so is to break a promise that the organisation has made, either to customers if you don’t deliver or deliver and charge too much, or to owners if you deliver as expected at a loss.

Now ask the room to discuss what needs to be different in order to deliver that promise with the budget given.

Watch closely which people choose to take on this challenge, and which choose to use their capability to avoid it.  Avoiding won’t look obvious, it will take the form of very rational reasons why what is being asked just isn’t possible.  You’ll be tempted to agree.

But it’s still avoiding.

Don’t get angry or frustrated because do you know where it comes from?  From the messages that people have been sent for years by the very way the organisation is designed and run.

What you’ve now got is the need for genuine dialogue about what everyone is experiencing.  Which requires you to listen, then listen, then listen.

And this might be the hardest work you do all year.

 

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

One advantage of organisations…

An old friend from school dropped past our office last week.  He’s left work in the corporate world to do what he likes doing the most – developing houses.  He’s good at it – a combination of trade know-how (he pretty much built his own place years ago) combined with the ability to organise, get along with people and take a risk.

As we often do, we got to talking about how things get done.  He was talking about the balancing act of having to schedule various trades to work on his properties, all of whom have other work on, with the whole thing relying on each trade doing their bit on time so the  next one can start.  And even if everyone puts in a great effort, sometimes the weather thwarts everyone…there’s just nothing that can be done.  But then the next tradie has to decide who they are going to let down…my friend, or the next customer whose job will now start late.

“But that’s how it goes” he said.  ”Because they’re all running their own business, they’re not employees.  So why should they wait for me?”

Fighting to get people to show up.  Cajoling, negotiating and trying to get ‘buy-in’ so your project comes first.  Does this sound like your organisation?

The key difference between organisations and my friend’s occupation as a developer is that organisations have roles that have the authority to decide what gets done next and to allocate resources.   They’re called managers, and it starts with the CEO.  Make good decisions in this area and everyone’s talents become more valuable and are directed toward something bigger that they are a part of.  Sounds good.

But if this fundamental work isn’t getting done, then why have an organisation at all?

 

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

The real foundation of your cross-functional issues

Does the discussion in your meetings often turn toward other departments and how they are letting you down?  Actually, why am I even posing that as a question?  Let me start again:

When the discussion in your next meeting turns toward why and how other departments are letting you down, trying saying this:

Sounds like we’ve got ourselves an org design issue.

You can predict the response: “What do you mean org design?  They know what they are there to do.  They should just do their job and deliver“.

But here’s what’s missed….the other area is staffed by people just like your team is.  And they’re probably putting in some sort of effort just like your team is.  And they probably know how to do their job about as good as your team knows how to do theirs.

So the problem isn’t the other department.  The problem is that what the other department sees itself as accountable for differs from what your team thinks it should be accountable for.

And what do you call the work of sorting out what departments and roles are going to be accountable for?  Organisational design.

It’s what sits at the foundation of your organisational issues.  It’s the key to developing your organisation.

But you won’t see it until you see  it.

 

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

How to stop your culture of busy busy and start delivering

“Everyone around here is just too busy being busy” sighed Merryn.  Her business employed 250 people, it was growing and she was feeling the strain.

“How can you tell?” I asked.

“Because everyone time I ask someone ‘how’s things’, I get the same response…a roll of the eyes and  ’just busy….flat out…..you know how it is’.  And things are stalling.  Lots of action, no results.”

“What would you like to be hearing?”

“It would be great” Merryn continued, “if someone would say  ’I’m focussed, in the flow and we’re all delivering.  Feeling great‘”

“So what are your people working on then?”

Merryn looked puzzled for a second, then replied “Lots of stuff – business-as-usual, we’ve got improvements to the warehouse operation underway, legislative change coming, our IT systems need an upgrade, the usual product development, and on top of that, we’re trying to find ways to innovate so we can play in some new fields”.

“Sounds pretty busy busy” I replied.  ”So if I’m sitting there with a choice as to what to work on next, which one do you want me to do?” Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

The (not so) hidden key to integrating business units

“I’ve got some issues between my two key General Managers” said Ingvild, the CEO.

“Lucky there’s a CEO then” I replied, “but I guess you’re not exactly feeling lucky”.

She laughed.  ”Not so much.”

“Tell me what’s happening”

“Well you know Sue, she’s our GM of Development.  Her job is to come up with what’s next.  We discuss as an Exec team, in the end I make decisions about where we want to be in five years or so, whether it fits our purpose,  and her area is there to develop the offers and the opportunities in those new areas.”

“OK.  Who else?”

“Janet.  She’s our GM of Operations, and she’s there to bring into existence the stuff that Sue is confident is viable as well as deliver the usual stuff.  So it’s sort of like ‘Sue tests and learns, confirms viability, Janet plays a part in this, then once we’re go, Janet’s area integrates the new stuff into Operations.  How she does this is up to her, sometimes it changes one of her areas, other times she starts a new area.”

“Right.  So what’s the problem?” I asked.

“Well, it’s basically infighting.” Ingvild continued. “And the crux of it is that Janet’s Ops area thinks Sue’s Development area is unreasonable.”

“Are they?”

“Well…I don’t think so.  I’ve seen R&D or Development areas before, and Sue is solid.  Not slow by any means, but not churning stuff out at a rate that’s unreasonable.”

“And what does Janet say from the Ops view?”

“She and her people say that Sue’s area has no idea the pressure they are under, that they don’t have time for new stuff all the time.  But I’ve got a problem with ‘no new stuff’, because as you keep reminding us, without development this is going to eventually lead to us falling gently off a cliff as our offerings gradually become old school.”

“Is Ops right in their view.  Do they not have time for new stuff?”

“Well, that’s the thing.  I look at what Operations produces, they’re working hard, getting stuff done at a rate that’s pretty impressive”.

I sat and waited for her to go on.  After a while she continued.

“So I’m at a loss.  I’ve got a situation with two competent GMs, I’m happy with both of them, but together, it’s just not happening.  And before you go on…” she smiled….”I am fully aware that this is my problem and no one else’s.”

“That will save us a lot of time” I laughed.  ”So here’s what happening.  The work of your team is not integrated“. Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

No therapy required: How to get your people working together

Have you, or are you about to, invest money in getting your people to work better as a team?  To get them to get along, to understand each other, to form closer bonds so work will truly flow across your organisation like the ball moving from defence to attack?

Your motives are pure.  You want your people to work better together.

But there’s something you need to do first.  Here it is, the biggest piece of obvious you will have read for quite some time:

To get your people to work better together, tell them how their roles work together.

That’s it!

Are you laughing?  Does this seem too simple to you?  Well it is simple.  A better word for it is foundational.

Would you agree that it’s a foundational condition for effectiveness that people in roles have an understanding of how their roles fit together?  That things are easy when people ‘know where they stand’, when they know who can ask who to do what in terms of their core jobs,  the reason they are there?

We need this sorted.  Your people need this sorted.

So you have a choice.  You can invest in friendship training, and then hope that your people can figure out for themselves how their roles fit together.  They might even do so.  And if you can afford the coffees and the lunches and your competitors and/or customers are happy to wait….sounds great.

Here’s the other way.  Decide, then tell them how their roles work together.  Here’s some examples:* Read more…

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.