Last summer I had the opportunity to attend the University of North Texas conference for collaborative organizations and heard several key points that I think are worth sharing. One speaker talked about the characteristics born in a crisis driven organization:
Bad planning where there are few requirements and resource shortfall due to always saying yes to the customer.
Ad-hoc processes with no standard way of working and every effort is a new effort. It’s typical for there to be 40% rework in these organizations.
Poor measurement providing no historical data by which to compare yesterday to today.
General mismanagement that survives on nerves, fire-fighting, and relationships.
The typical approach to correcting this problem has been to roll out programs for the same managers who are already too busy to do daily work well. Most of these programs fail within six months.
So the goal is to approach first things first:
Level 1: Stabilize the local work. Take what works best and integrating it across the business line.
Level 2: Standardize the process. Gather quantitative data on the process; understand its capability and how it performs under different circumstances. Use skill-based coaching as a way to reduce variation.
Level 3: Optimize the process. Innovate and then improve, making fundamental changes to increase capability and process innovation.
Level 4: Make everything predictable in the new process.
The “ah-ha” for me during this session concerned the notion of empowerment (teams) and when to begin the teaming process in an organization that is fundamentally broken. Do you introduce teams in the organization at the beginning and use the teams to fix what’s broken, or do you wait until after Level 2 and use the teams to brainstorm improvements? What are your thoughts?
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