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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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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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 developmentā€”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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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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The Transformation Process: An Introduction

A Holistic Approach to Change

Technologies have promised companies faster and better services to help them gain new customers and stay ahead of the competition. In some cases, these promises have been fulfilled. In other cases, however, the promised gains have been elusive, and many organizations have found themselves caught in a frenzied game of technological catch-up with no end in sight and little time to catch their breath.

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The Transformation Model

The Transformation Model reduces the vast complexity of an organization to seven key variables that must be understood and aligned for a business to be successful. Alignment implies a holistic or systems point of view that finds the best “fit” between all organizational elements.

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