When talking about enterprise 2.0, something we offer hear is “sounds interesting but our company is not designed to work this way”. Understand : we decide to do something and we “push” it, don’t even think of allowing a bottom-up flow to exist in this context. Of course, that causes gaps, the company isn’t able to meet clients and employee’s needs right away, many realignments being necessary while the exchanges that would makes it easier are not facilitated at all. InÂ a colorful language, companies use the existing pipes, hoping all pieces will fit together at the end.
That’s why I suggested to think about a Service Oriented Organization, which starting point is not the top of of the pyramid but the goals the organization has to achieve. Don’t forget that the purpose of any company is not to keep people busy or give to what already exist a reason to live but to meet the market’s expectations, even if it means to change what already exist.
Now let’s play a little game.
Imagine you have to draw your company’s or any project team’s org-chart. How would you do that ?
Let’s carry on with that and imagine that you have to build a project, starting from scratch. From wich point would you start ?
I tried that with a few guinea-pigs and my intuition was confirmed. For the org-chart, people start from the top. Ok, I can understand that. For the project they start with the team, decide who do what and distribute them along the process.
What if we started from the final goal. This goal could be “the product is delivered”, “theÂ machine is assembled”, “1000 people attend my conference”, “my staff’s performance increases by 10%”, “the client buys”. Then go back from the goal, step by step, wondering at each one “what is needed to make it happen”. Step by step we place people, each having his purpose aligned with the final one, and each having is own needs in order to behave as expected, do what’s needed and reach his goals. At each step we have to make sure goals are coherent, that thet make sense and we focus on players’ needs.
This is both funny and lead to surpring things. We don’t wonder anymore how to make the n-1 level execute what the n level decides but how the n+1 level wll give the n level what it needs to succeed. And, buiding this as a step by step breakdown starting from the final purpose allows to make sure goals are aligned and that individual goals are coherent with the final purpose (have you noticed how many people are told to do things that are not consistent with the corporate goals ?).
This works wery well if you consider that, at the end, what must drive the organization is the client’s satisfaction or staff’s needs that must drive the organization. It looks looks like “pulled production”. It doesn’t prevent authority nor contro but ensures that energy and resources are spent for the right purposes.
Of course, once the process have been put at work, everyone will be able to formalize his needs in order to benchmark it with the original plan to continuously improve them according to operational’s feedbacks. This kind of organization will rely on subsidiarity and will be able to management improvements as an ongoing process. People who are in charge of the whole system will only have to deal with what is about the system itself and their time will not be wasted to deal with things that can be managed at a local level. It would also have a huge impact on motivation since people will only be responsible for what they can do, not from systemic issues they can’t fix at their level (don’t forget that one of the main causes of non-quality and undproductiveness is the fact people must personnally assume systemic failures).
I myself did that last week…and I saw another benefit. The identified needs gave me the idea ofÂ involving specific profiles I would not have thought about if I had work in a top down model because I would not have identified some specificities at first sight and would have pushed a “standard” way of doing things which would have not extactly fitted this specific case.
OK it’s easier to have a “one siez fits all” way of doing things rather than trying to understand each specific case.
In my opinion, beyond steriles discussions about tools, I’m convinced that one of the most strategic challenges for companies will be to stick to real needs, where value is created. The ROI is clear : stop wasting resources and avoid all the costs caused by non-quality, that’s to say the delivery of something that doesn’t match either staff or clients’ expectations.
An “unique” process, built in order to make its result possible and not in order it may be reached with an hazardous alignement, is the only way to efficiently respond to what’s a key challenge for companies : delivering a highly specific and customized service / product threw a standardized process. Perhaps I may have started with this point. Advocates of agility may like it.
Maybe the ROI of social software won’t be hard to assess in this context…