By James M. Kerr, an Overdrive contributor and partner of BlumShapiro Consulting
The following is an excerpt from The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change, by management consultant and business strategist, James M. Kerr. The book presents a set of checklists that cover everything from building a vision and developing competencies to engaging staff and re-imaging organizational design and reporting structures. This is an excerpt from the chapter entitled, Renovate the Business – A Way to Become of Choice.
Whether stated deliberately, or otherwise, every executive wants their organization to be “of Choice,” which translates into becoming the Organization of Choice, Employer of Choice and Investment of Choice within their enterprise’s niche, market and industry. To be “of Choice” underpins virtually every strategic initiative that a management team imagines, staffs, funds and executes.
Don’t buy it? Consider the initiatives defined within your enterprise’s current strategic plan. Are they not all aimed at differentiating your organization? Are they not about attracting more customers, enticing the best employees, gaining more investment in your enterprise? Strategy is all about being “of Choice.” The challenge is how to best get there and remain preferred among all other options that exist in the marketplace.
Business renovation, the act of continuously improving on what you do as an enterprise, is a fundamental factor in becoming “of Choice.” Like a world class athlete working on fundamentals, organizations must be constantly refining and improving. It is the focus on getting better that enables our enterprises to extend current business practices and introduce new ones that are vital to strategic achievement.
Eliminate the Silos
Once a method for driving business renovation is in place, an organization can set about the work of actually analyzing what it does and how it does it, so to identify ways to improve its major operations.
When working on large scale business transformation initiatives, it is important to identify the “organizational silos” that exist within the entity as early as possible. They tend to be sources for immediate improvement and impact.
An organizational silo is a work unit or department that places priority on the achievement of its own parochial interests over the larger objectives of the enterprise. It has adopted this behavior as a protection mechanism intended to preserve what it does from interference from anything that could disturb how it operates.
To illustrate, consider a company that has conflict between its sales department (responsible for selling products to customers) and its operations department (responsible for making the products that customers purchase). Driven to meet sales goals, the sales department routinely make promises to customers that the operations department cannot keep – placing undue pressure on another organizational unit to make its goals. This type of silo behavior contributes to organizational dysfunction and leads to deep-rooted customer dissatisfaction – a surefire way to NOT be “of Choice.”
What’s more, because silos tend to horde information and control communication flow, they tend to be wildly inefficient and, often disruptive to organizational performance. So, their redesign or elimination can be truly transformative for an enterprise seeking long-term improvements in the ways and means of execution.
Identifying and eliminating organizational silos is the first thing that I recommend when working with clients on business renovation projects. Silos can be reconsidered by introducing a team-based approach that co-mingles various disciplines into teams so to eliminate the protectionist behaviors of the silo mentality that is so harmful to business performance.
Re-imagining the way work is performed, utilizing human resources most efficiently, and exploring how to better leverage technologies are critically important to the ongoing success and evolution of our organizations. To become and remain “of Choice” demands a degree of swiftness in execution and rapid response to customer requirements that can only be achieved through rethinking and optimizing the way work is performed. Modern day economic and technological trends only serve to accentuate the point.
However, change for the sake of change, is not the best way to leverage precious resources to competitive gain. Rather, emphasis must be placed on architecting expansive business renovation programs that can aggressively transform an enterprise into one that will last for years to come.
James M. Kerr, Partner, BlumShapiro Consulting, is the author of The Executive Checklist (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). As a management consultant and organizational behaviorist, Jim specializes in strategic planning, corporate transformation and project & program development. He can be reach at [email protected]