Why Conduct a Current State Review before Redesigning an Organization?Nov 06, 2017
Imagine this scene. There is an operating room with patient prepped for surgery and lying on the table. The anesthesia has taken effect and the surgeons and the rest of the medical team are positioned for the big event. The surgeon utters the words which we all know from medical TV dramas signals it is time for action, “Scalpel…”
But what if this scene were instead a first office visit and the surgeon decided after hearing a few complaints that surgery was the answer and started cutting right then and there? The scalpel, instead of being viewed as a revered tool of healing, now becomes more like a knife in the hands of someone who could easily be categorized as a criminal, because a competent surgeon would never cut into a patient without a full-scale diagnosis. First, blood would be drawn and CT scans and MRI’s would be ordered.
The fact is that organization redesign is like surgery on an organization. You as a leader are the surgeon and your organization redesign process is your scalpel. So before you slice and dice, you must complete your diagnosis, which is your current state review!
You should look for three things from this assessment:
- How exactly does the organization function today? In other words, how does the work actually get done? Who reports to whom? How does information flow? How are decisions made?
- In what ways does the current organization design pose a barrier to delivery of customer satisfaction and achievement of the business strategy?
- In what ways does the current organization design pose a barrier to employee productivity and performance?
The following are tips to help you conduct a thorough current state review:
- On paper, map out the structure as it exists today (diagram at least the top 2-3 levels), complete with roles, titles and reporting relationships.
- Find out how the organization arrived at its current state.
- Document how the structure is organized (e.g., by function, process, geography, customer, etc.)
- Identify the core work processes and map them to ensure that you know the flow, decision points and handoffs.
- Gather feedback from subject matter experts to validate your work and provide additional insight.
- Conduct consumer research (via survey, focus groups or interviews) to determine customer expectations and identify barriers to having people try, repeat or recommend your products and services.
- Review your business strategy and identify gaps between what the organization says it wants to accomplish and what is actually being accomplished.
- Conduct employee research (via survey, focus groups or interviews) to determine what is working and not working within the structure that helps or hinders employee ability to perform and deliver on customer expectations.
- Review all data and: (1) make sure you have a very good reason to redesign your organization (remember previous points) and (2) look for themes.
- You should not only describe the issues, but also seek to understand what these themes mean. In other words, do your diagnosis. Using our medical analogy, don’t just order CT scans, MRI’s and blood work; use the resulting data to help you understand what the underlying issues are, before you make your cuts.
The bottom line: Remember, you need to go slow to go fast. You may feel like you have a good gut sense about your client's organization and know what you need to do; and that may very well be true. However, organization design is more than moving boxes on a piece of paper. It is more than changing the way work is done and the business results that you hope will follow. Ultimately, organization is a redefinition of the work/life experience for your employees. At best, it redefines who employees interact with, develop relationships without lunch with. At worst, it can turn an employed person into an unemployed person. So a careful consultant (like a careful surgeon) must take great care before cutting, slicing and dicing.
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