Archive for the 'Systems of 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.

Eliminate change management

We all know the usual routine – management identifies the need for more productivity and/or quality or a new strategy, the necessary actions are identified (internally, externally or a combination of both), this necessitates change, so now we ‘change manage’.

And it works……at best…..sometimes.

What we’re really doing here is coercing people to like the change we’ve decided on.  We’re doing change to them.

What if instead we did change with them?

As Peter Block says,

when someone states ‘we need to get everyone on board‘, the answer is ‘what makes you think you’re in the boat?

Imagine if, instead of management calling in the external experts, it went the other way around and the frontline team approached management and said

We’re out of ideas.  But if you can find $50k for those improvement consultants we were speaking to last week, we reckon we can work with them and find about $200k per year savings back to the business‘.

Would this require ‘change management’? 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 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.

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.

Improve your life – sort the work system

Triangle Element Modes

If you’re a manager, you’re in charge of a work system.  I’m not talking about technology systems, I mean a system as in there’s an external world that puts things in, your area does things with them, and then something comes out to the external world.

A system.

You might even have done that thing where you draw the boxes and arrows, some ‘swimming lanes’ if you’re fancy and so can now declare “there’s my work system.”

Nice one.  So how come you still don’t have enough hours in the day?  Why is there still a line of people outside of your office?  And why does that diagram just fester on your G: drive and you didn’t know that your Visio licence expired two years ago?

The reason is because your work system isn’t so great.  You haven’t yet put in focussed effort to see your area as a work system, and then, every time something requires your intervention, see this as a work system failure.

That’s right – every time one of your people needs to come to you to ask a question that is not of the nature of ‘why do we do this?’, it is actually a failure of your work system. 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.