Archive for the 'Level III Work' Category

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.

Who’s fault is organisational pain?

“My Distribution area is driving me insane!”  So declared Lisa, and I could see genuine anger in her eyes.  Lisa owned the company.

“You mean Teresa’s area?  What’s going on” I asked.  Teresa was Senior Manager Distribution.

“I’ve tried everything we’ve been speaking about.  I’ve asked Teresa to put together her plan for the next 18 months.  I’ve asked her to get more clear in assigning work.  I’ve asked her to make sure she’s got the capability that she needs…”  Lisa paused.

“Go on” I said.

“And she’s been in your workshops.  The one we did last year, then I know you ran a 2-day session for her and her directs so they would all understand the management practices we’re putting in here.  Everyone else got one day, but I wanted her to have the extra training.   Despite all that…”

“Despite all that…What are you seeing?”

“Well despite all that, her area has missed on delivery targets to our retail network again, I don’t know how many times this year, cost per delivery continues to rise, and I just found out today that we had a bunch of customers at one of our stores who were ready for the new range in the catalogue….but do you think that range had been delivered?”

I nodded in understanding.

“WELL DO YOU?”

I jumped as I’d assumed the question was rhetorical.

“I’m guessing no” I said quietly.  ”And I also know this….you’ve got a problem”.

“You’re damn right I’ve got a problem.  It’s called Teresa.”

“Actually, you are 100% wrong.” 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.

How do I work out a reasonable efficiency target?

“OK” said Danni, GM of Operations with about 600 people under her.  ”So I’m accountable for the work of each of my Senior Managers, which means I’m accountable for how efficiently each of their areas runs”.

“In the end” I replied.

“And their work is about making and implementing decisions that will make their areas reach the level of efficiency that we need”.

“Yep.  Outputs per input.”

“I know you like to talk about results” Danni went on.  ”So how do I work out what’s a reasonable result in terms of efficiency for each of my Senior Managers?”

“How do you do it at the moment?”

“Well…….if I’m honest, I guess I pretty much agree with what the Senior Managers say is possible.”

“And they may well be spot on” I answered.  ”But tell me this” I answered.  ”When you were getting those renovations done on your house last year, how did you work out what was reasonable?”

“I guess I had a think about what I thought was possible, asked some builders, then asked some friends who had been through a similar thing.  Then I asked for what I wanted.”

“And what are the equivalents for deciding a reasonable result to expect for efficiency?”

“My Senior Managers of course.  But also I suppose conferences, consultants, colleagues, seminars, workshops, books.  All of those things.”  Danni was thinking hard now.

“So that meeting with the improvement consultants last month that three of your Senior Managers went to…..” I let it dangle in the air….

“I should have been there with them.” said Danni.  ”I needed to listen, learn, then make my own judgement on what to expect over the next 18 months from my Senior Managers”.

“Exactly.  That decision is the work of a General Manager.”

 

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.

Ultimately who is accountable for each of your areas being efficient?

Danni was General Manager Operations in a 1400-person organisation with about 600 people under her umbrella.   The new Board had made it clear they required a renewed focussed on ‘efficiency and effectiveness’.

“OK” Danni continued, “so I’m accountable that the work of my various areas is effective, meaning creates value for the organisation, and my Senior Managers are accountable that it’s done efficiently”.

“Nearly” I replied.

“Only nearly?” Danni laughed.  ”I thought I was getting somewhere!”

“We are” I continued.  ”But remember from the workshop last week, what is each manager accountable for?”

“The results of their people”.

“Which means ultimately who is accountable for each of your areas being efficient?”

“Well I guess that means me.  But now I’m confused”.

“Fair enough!” I agreed.  ”But hang with me.  The work of each of your Senior Managers is to make their areas run more efficiently.  As in achieve a better outputs to inputs ratio.  And work is about making decisions to reach an outcome.  So your Senior Managers are paid to identify then choose a pathway that will see the outcome of a more efficient operation achieved”.

“Go on…..” Danni said, nodding slowly.

“But…..how much of an improvement in efficiency is considered to be a good job…..the result they are expected to achieve…..that’s your call”.

“Why my call?”

“Because you are…..” I began.  Danni smiled and joined in….”accountable for the results of my people“.

 

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.

Which ‘e’ word are General Managers accountable for?

Danni was General Manager Operations in a 1400-person organisation with about 600 people under her umbrella.   The new Board had made it clear they required a renewed focussed on ‘efficiency and effectiveness’.

“So which one do you hold your Senior Managers accountable for?” I asked.  ”Efficiency or effectiveness?”

“Well both!” she answered.  ”It’s not enough that they just do things right, they need to make sure they are doing the right things”.

“And who decides what the right things are?”

“What do you mean?” Danni asked, her brow furrowing.

“Well….let say one of your Senior Managers asks to invest $150k in improvement consultants for a six month project that will deliver a three-year payback of $1.5 million.”

“Sounds good to me.  Approved!” she smiled.

“Hang on a tick….what if the service that is being improved is one that we would call, using Drucker’s words, ‘yesterday’s breadwinner’.”

“Well, $1.35 million over three years sounds pretty good”.  Danni was fast with numbers.

“True” I agreed. “But what if those improvements required most of the people who are involved in that  series of projects you were telling me about to find tomorrow’s breadwinners?”

“Well….that would be a genuine strategic decision.  Classic resource allocation.  What’s  savings of $500k each year compared to the value of new products?”

“Would you let your Senior Managers make this decision?” I asked.

“Nope.   I’d get their inputs, hear their disagreements.  But the final call – that’s what I’m paid for.”

“And which ‘e’ word are we talking about now”.

“Effectiveness”  said Danni with a confident nod.  ”General Managers make decisions about what are the right things to do.”

“Which means….”

Danni had it:  ”Senior Managers make decisions that make sure we do it right”.

 

 

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.

Which one do you hold your Senior Managers accountable for?

Danni was General Manager Operations in a 1400-person organisation with about 600 people under her umbrella.   The new Board had made it clear they required a renewed focussed on ‘efficiency and effectiveness’.

“What does that mean” I asked.

“You know, do more with less, headcount, that sort of thing” she answered.

“So what sort of stuff will you be doing”?

“Well everyone is talking the usual suspects.  LEAN, Six Sigma, process maps….I can see a lot of boxes and arrows in my future”.

“That sounds like efficiency to me” I continued.  Where’s the effectiveness?”.

“Well I like the traditional definitions.  Efficiency is doing things right, and effectiveness is doing the right things”.

“So which one do you hold your Senior Managers accountable for?”

 

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.