Saturday, January 31, 2015

Digital Master TUning XXVII: How to Keep Organization Flow

All things move and nothing remains still.-Heraclitus

Organizations, like individuals, need to be in flow to operate smoothly. An organization achieves this state of equilibrium through its management layers. In other words, an organization can approach the flow zone when the positions in its hierarchy have clear, accountable tasks. To put simply, how to keep organizations flow and grow into digital masters?

Delayering becomes a lens through which it is possible to examine and then fix many other issues. If structure drives behavior and people are able of doing self-reflection, then the responsibility could be to reflect on the structure and the behavior, give feedback and - if necessary /useful, aim for and/or facilitate, changing the structure. If you're an employee, you can ask your manager to change the structure. If you're a citizen, you can ask your political representative to change the structure. If you're a manager, you can change the structure by changing the way of working / tasks / roles / responsibilities / targets etc.

The power and responsibility should go hand in hand. Power is the capacity to achieve the purpose, and purpose is the source of power. Human action integrates purpose and power. However, in most of the circumstances, the persons with a lot of power does not like to delegate responsibility to lower levels, especially in the case of failures. If responsibility didn't follow power, distributed to co-workers, the manager would be in trouble. S/he is held responsible for department results by top management and to succeed, s/he needs to distribute responsibility between employees using leadership skills. To keep the employees within the loop, feedback and rewards are the main elements of a positive management along with clear and challenging objective. The way organizations manage their commitments is an expression and reflection of management’s integrity. How one manages accountabilities rest on this ground.

Organizations have personalities in the same way that an individual does. Most often, an organization's personality replicates the personality of its leader. In organizations that tend to "shoot from the hip," there is a lack of strategic and tactical plans for problem-solving, or the plan is written on high and passed down in stone without employee participation. All too often, plans are written and stuck on a shelf. The result is an absence of guidance in daily problem solving. If you look at a business as a collection of subsystems, in simplest terms, the organizational factors are how those subsystems are structured within the larger system and how they interact with each other. Those interactions can be technical, informational, human, or structural, to name a few.

Push/encourage teams to "think in bigger boxes" (think outside of your job description and consider company and industry and even societal impacts). Engage all employees in improving their processes, and create the expectation that positive behaviors and mutual respect are valued above everything else. Assume that every problem has multiple solutions and ask yourself and others for "three ways we might address this issue." (push for multiple solutions.) Take the time to look at every situation from multiple points of view (customer POV, supplier POV, management POV, etc).

As organizational design researchers well put, the key diagnostic can be summed up in two simple questions: “Are you big enough for your job?” and “Is your job big enough for you?” If the answer to both is “yes” throughout the organization, then it is in the flow. Fine tune your team or organizational structure so they can  best express this purpose and accountability. And keep them flow.

Digitalization is like a flywheel, and Digital Masters are the one riding above it. Surf more Information about Digital Master:


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