Here are four words, huge in their implications, challenging in their applications, and sometimes confusing in their descriptions. The following comments are my brief take on each of the words and their meanings, at least for me in the past, present and possible future. As Yogi (Berra) said, “It’s very hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”
Structure – How is the institution, company, team, division, department or individual organized? What are the essential features of how the parts connect with one another and work for both efficiency and effectiveness? When you look at it from the outside what do you see? Is there a chart, one of those diagrams that show people and how they are all connected? And if there is, when was it last updated? If form follows function then this would not be the first thing listed but perhaps the last, as it would be formed and informed by the work that needs to be done. Think about it. When putting an organization together, where do you start? Or if you are re-forming and re-shaping an organization, team or whatever, it might be better not to start rearranging the tables and chairs (and people) until you have a really good idea of how its working.
Function – Is it working? So many responses are that if it’s working, don’t mess with it. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken and I say that if you think it’s not “broken” perhaps you’re not looking hard enough or far enough or deep enough. It does not have to be broken to make it better or to rearrange some pieces in order to make it work or function better, more efficiently for example. You may want to increase the flow or the capacity or maybe you even want to slow it down. Maybe you want to do something entirely new and different or add a piece to what already exists. Are you willing to consider what you might want to discard in order to replace it with a newer, better model? Of course, the marketers are all about built in obsolescence in order to keep selling the new stuff.
Process – Here is where the proverbial rubber hits the road and two of the words that have gained popularity recently in the parlance of organizations are “traction” and “recalibrating.” I am all for gaining traction as that is what moves us forward. How do you measure progress? Assessment and evaluation have become enormous markers for determining success, so much so that they are an integral part of the process. As for recalibration, maybe that just means that in the face of so much change so fast, we need to make certain adjustments in the way we adapt to change or even design change as part of the process itself. If you believe you have a good process, then it’s important to let it work on behalf of the organization and/or the individuals who comprise it. If you need to design a new plan, then go for it.
Outcome – Here is where your goals and objectives rest and wait for you. You may think you have determined what they ought to be and depending on your values, whether bottom line profit for the stakeholders and shareholders or individual and corporate success by some other measure, the results
“prove” or demonstrate that what you are about is worth all the investment of time, effort, energy and resources. When you and those with whom you work are excited and energized by your mission, your vision and values, these are what will drive the decisions that will eventually produce the outcome. Mission driven decisions, according to the research, are the most effective ones.
In summary, have a look and if you need some outside, more objective expertise to do that, then get it. You will be glad you did!
© Gary Gruber 2013