Archive for the 'Levels of Work' Category

A Talk – Designing for Quality Leadership

Adam ACSA May 2017

Something different this time around – a talk!  I spoke recently at the Leadership, Culture and Governance Symposium put on by Aged & Community Services Australia in Adelaide.

The topic – Designing for Quality Leadership   The point?  Leadership depends as much on your organisational design as it does the people in the jobs, so….stop fidgeting and start building something! 

Click here to watch.  Goes for about 40 minutes, and sorry about the hissing at the start – that blissfully goes away at 4:15.

It’s the stuff we teach in detail in our workshops and our online learning so you can design departments and enterprises where people can do great work.

And…if you’d like to see what was on the screen, or want the super-quick version,  click here to see the slides.  I’ve written short explanations on many of them so they make sense even without the presentation itself.

Feel free to download and distribute the slides to those who might be interested if you think it might help create a conversation that makes your place better.

Thanks to Derek Dittrich from ACSA and Tim Levett for the video production.

As always, if there is anything I can help with, just let me know.

Cheers!

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.

51% – the brilliantly simple concept to start creating real commitment

Read it on stairs (2)

There’s an element that gets overlooked when you set up your organisation with the right number of levels (yes, there is a right number, but that’s a different post), and when you make sure that the people in the roles will be able to add value at the level that the role requires.  You get a natural feeling of release or ‘that feels better’ as some of the key conditions that create micromanagement or disconnection are now dealt with.

Couple in some training about what the unique value-add of each level is, and we’re well on the way toward an enterprise that can seriously get things done, both today’s work, and tomorrow’s.  If you’d like some research on this, and no less than 50 years’ worth is good enough for you, check out the work of Elliott Jaques.  We use it because it works.

But there’s a darker side.

In the process of defining ‘levels’, the human need for dominance rears it’s head.  I’m talking about the idea that “I’m at a higher ‘level’, therefore I know better than you”.  Don’t get me wrong, most times this isn’t evil, and comes through as genuine caring for ‘your’ people.  But the very act of assuming you know what’s best for someone else….how comfortable are you with being on the receiving end of that?

Yet, we need people who can think in longer timespans so we’re OK in the future.  And we need people who can make things work right now so we’re OK right now.  We need all of these things for a successful business.  Hierarchy is actually natural.

So what do we do?

What we do is move to the mindset described by Peter Block as Partnering not Parenting. 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 simple principle that keeps large groups connected

“OK, so what have we found?” asked Kathy, CEO of a mid-size manufacturer, about 1600 people.

“We’ve found a possible cause of the issues coming out of your Eastern plant” I replied, putting on the table a diagram known as a Levels of Work Analysis.  The diagram is like an X-Ray for organisational design – it shows clearly the cracks and splinters in the org design itself that are causing frustration and lack of delivery.

Kathy leaned forward and pointed at the clearly marked red areas.  ”What’s going on there?”

“I need to give you a quick bit of lingo” I said.  ”We use some fundamental principles that, if in place, will see frustration down and delivery up.  One of these is about having what we call building blocks in place to make sure that our natural need for connection isn’t accidentally designed out.”

Kathy’s eyebrows went up.  I waited to check I was making sense.  ”Go on” she said.

“The first building block is the basic team structure.   But above that we have the wider structure, or the three-tier structure.  The fancy term for it Elliott Jaques coined was the ‘Mutual Recognition Unit’, or ‘MRU’.”

“Fancy indeed” Kathy commented.  ”So how does this help me?” 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 unblock your people’s creativity

“We need more self-starters” said Matthew.  I could have sworn he was glaring at me.  He had been CEO for a year now.

“In what way?” I asked.

“Our people just won’t make decisions.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“I don’t know!  We’ve empowered our people but they’re still bringing all the decisions to us.”

“Frustrating.” I agreed.  ”So what have you tried?”

“Like everyone else, we’ve done our OCI, we’ve come out…”

“…red and green.”  I finished for him.  ”And you want blue.”

“How did you know?”

“Because if people are shivering, I’m pretty sure when I look at the thermometer what it’s going to say”.

Matthew sat back.  He seemed deflated. 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.

Executive accountability

“Wow, that felt like some real work!”.  Gareth had just put the finishing touches on planning the work of his area with a true focus on results.  He was GM of an Operations Division.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Because you made me not only take each 3-year result and write down where it needs to be in 18 month’s time to be on track, you then made me write down where it needs to be in 9 months, then where it needs to be in 3 months!”.  Gareth looked both exasperated and pleased.

“How did you find that?”

“Annoying!” he replied.  ”I kept thinking ‘surely a GM doesn’t have to go down to 3 months’.  Then I remembered your two points – that I’m the only one accountable for the whole Operations Division, and if we’re going to use the natural timespans that work organises into, we have to be serious about it and let our people know where the Division needs to be each quarter”.

“Exactly!” I said.  ”Same applies to CEOs – they might set results for the organisation out 7 years, but if they can work these results down through the timespans to the 3 month organisational results or milestones that would show we’re on track…..things really get moving”.

“That would be some serious alignment!”

“It is.  If you’re willing to do the work.”

“So….am I done?” Gareth asked.  ”I think I know your answer” he continued with a wry smile.

“You know me well.  The answer of course is no!”

“Of course it is.  So what’s next?”

“Now we write down the results you’re going to need each of your Senior Managers to deliver by 30 June 2017, that is, 18 months away”.

“But isn’t that their job to work out? Gareth asked.

“No.  It’s their job to advise, suggest, recommend.  But in the end, it’s your call.  And you know why?”

“Because I’m accountable”.

“Yes..but for what?”

“For their results”

“What else?”

Gareth looked at me quizzically.

“Every manager is accountable for ensuring that the efforts of their people are put toward delivering results that create true value for the organisation. That their efforts are not wasted.  Which ultimately means that they are valued.   You were picked by the CEO to run the Operations Division because she thinks you’ve got the capability to do that, to determine which results will create the most value.  It’s what you’re actually…..”

“It’s what I’m actually paid to do.”

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.

Planning in five minutes

Are you a manager?  If so, you are accountable for providing the organisation and your people with a plan for the work of your area.  It’s not a bonus thing to do if you get time for it, it’s actually one of the things you are paid to do.

So here’s how you do it.

Write down a) where your area needs to end up at a future point, then b) how it got there.  How far into the future?  Use this simple guide:

  • If you run a frontline team, write down what’s been completed at the end of the year, both in terms of business-as-usual volumes and any new stuff you’ve done.  Now write down what the team did to achieve that (what training, methods, techniques, layout, rosters etc. got them there).  Your job is about doing it better. 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 real job of middle management

Tokyo Tube

Matt Darling invented a system called Smart Ward in the most tragic of circumstances.  It puts touchscreens into hospitals which look like the ones in hospitality where staff use wristbands to identify themselves then can enter and access data.  The result is less duplication and more reliable information, allowing nurses to do what they’re good at – nursing, and reducing mistakes due to admin overload.

ABC ran this article the day before Christmas, and a warning that the photo of Matt’s little girl may bring a tear to your eye.

Here’s the point:  the decision to implement a system such as this is why middle management exists. 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 question for managers to answer

Watering pot

“What do you want your people to do?”.

That’s the question I often ask when I’m helping managers with their accountability to lead their people (not optional by the way):

I usually get pretty good answers of the activity variety – the various things that solid employees would be seen doing as they go about their work.  Things like “liaise with customers, build relationships, deliver sales, plan projects”, and the old chestnuts of “deliver a framework” or “develop a strategy”.  Which is why I then ask this question:

And if they do a fantastic job, what does the company get?”. 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.