Overcoming Bureaucracy

Helping Business Reach Their Full potential

Consider these facts:

  • A Corning mold machine shop realized 100% improvements in quality and delivery while reducing costs from 15% above to 15% below the competition.
  • Rocky Mountain Labs reduced turnaround time from 28 to 14 days, reduced internal handoffs by 500%, thereby improving productivity by 50% and profits by 25%.
  • Tektronix Portables Division reduced inventory from $40 million to $15 million and reduced cycle time from 12 weeks to four weeks.
  • Shenandoah Life Insurance Company reduced the employee-to-supervisor ratio from 7:1 to 37:1, yet service improved and complaints and errors declined.
  • American Transtech decreased head count by 56 percent, increased sales volume by 46 percent, increased customer satisfaction and had an average of 158 percent improvement in shareowner services.

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Empower Your Employees by Involving Them in Decisions

I learned about the importance of involving people in making decisions (as well as teamwork) many years ago when managing a group of 13 HR specialists in a 2000 person electronics company. The welcome I received after being hired as HR director was not exactly warm. The staff was upset their previous boss was gone and that a new, young manager was brought in to replace him. One who didn’t have HR experience to boot.

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Contrasting Traditional & High Performance Organizations

High Performance

In last month’s newsletter I introduced the differences between traditional and high performance organizations. I want to continue that theme today.

I define a high performance company as "an organization that achieves outstanding results by making each person a contributing partner in the business." I want to point out that the goal of high performance is "outstanding results," as defined by a variety of performance measures. Employees as contributing partners are a means to this end and not the end in and of itself. However my experience, as well as research, show that a critical factor in creating and sustaining outstanding results over time is to create a positive work culture in which teams of people (at all levels) are meaningfully engaged in their work, understand the business, and are empowered with full responsibility for their success. The purpose of implementing high performance is to create the conditions in which this can occur.

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Seven Ideas to Get the Most From Your People

In spite of our amazing technological advances, the work of an organization is accomplished by people. People interface with the customer, make the product, deliver the service, plan and coordinate how work gets done, improve processes and systems, ensure quality standards, and return a profit. Technology has provided us with better tools and made us far more efficient and productive. But it is still people who do the work of an organization and are ultimately responsible for its success.

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The 3 Stages of Organizational Development

Prescriptions for Achieving Outstanding and Sustainable Results

By understanding a simple model of three stages of organizational growth, organizations can design themselves to move beyond chaos to high performance.

Most organizations experience chaos. In fact, a complete absence of chaos would mean that an organization could not respond to changing demands, a sure prescription for stagnation and death. Nevertheless, chaos that immobilizes an organization and results in its inability to respond effectively to the demands of the environment is unproductive and should be minimized if an organization is to succeed. This article presents a simple model that describes three stages of organizational growth and development—from chaos to stability to high performance. It also outlines some of the initiatives which leaders can take to move beyond chaos and eventually to high performance.

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Making Matrix Management Work

Matrix Organization Image

Whatever happened to the matrix organization? About thirty years ago, this form of management became very popular, with companies such as Citibank, Dow-Corning, Nestle, Xerox, IBM, HP and ABB in the forefront of its implementation. The two-boss structure that was the essence of the matrix organization was seen as addressing the challenge of balancing functional units and other organizational groupings (e.g., geography, customer groups, product groups, technology, etc.). Thus, for example, the head of Marketing for a country organization would report both to the country general manager as well as to a regional or global Marketing leader.

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Unruly Group to a Team


I have just been promoted in my company and am now running a unit that has become known for a history of problems working as a team and with other divisions. There are a number of bright, creative but strong-willed employees. My bosses have told me it is a priority to get this division working more effectively together. Where do I begin? How do I get this group on track?

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Dialogue: A Crucial Leadership Skill

Carlos has recently been appointed as a new supervisor of production. His feelings about his new job are mixed. He loved working on the floor and had a good relationship with his co-workers. He wasn’t sure he wanted all the responsibility and hassles of being a supervisor and how it might change his relationship with his former peers.
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The Stories We Tell

One of my happiest memories from my childhood was climbing up onto the lap of a parent or grandparent and reading a story. Reading childhood stories was a way I bonded with my loved ones. It was entertaining. And it was a way I learned valuable lessons of life.
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Why Redesign?

Stephen Wozniak and Steve Jobs started Apple Computer Corp. in the latter’s garage, of all places, hocking personal items to capitalize their budding company. Now, the iconic organization employs over 35,000 people worldwide. Pierre Omidyar hired his first employee for what would become eBay in 1996. The company not only weathered the dot-com bust, it enjoyed remarkable profitability under Meg Whitman’s leadership. Yet, explosive growth is often messy.

As companies mature – especially those that mature quickly – unnecessary bloat often masks as necessary expansion. Some divisions metastasize. Executive titles proliferate and generate a top-heavy (often heavy-handed) corporate culture. The structure becomes unsustainable, illogical, and inefficient. Objective intervention must reverse the existential threat to your organization.

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