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Team Based Organizations

Doing the Right Things,
Right the First Time

Industrial Age Organizations — Right the First Time

The hierarchical organization of the Industrial Age was designed to increase efficiency and do things right the first time. It accomplished this by creating specialized roles, institutional rules and a tight structure.

  • Specialized roles created experts who were more likely to do things right the first time.
  • Institutionalized rules created defined processes that could be brought under statistical process control to drive out deviation and maximize efficiency — think Assembly Line.
  • A tight structure created focus and control to hold people accountable for playing their roles and following the rules.

This approach to organization created a great deal of stability, predictability, and control. Its long chains of command assured that no one could make significant changes with out approval from their boss.

The weakness of the hierarchical organization is its inability to do the right things. High levels of accountability, backed up with extensive systems of rewards and recognition, focused people on doing the tasks they were told to do, without question. Figuring out the right thing to do was someone else's job.

High levels of stability combine with the high level of compliance to make the hierarchical organization highly resistant to change. And when change is ordered, it takes a great deal of time to implement. In today's fast paced world this organization is increasingly doing the wrong things, right the first time.

Many hierarchical organizations turned to teams to increase their ability to do the right things. Teams created an environment where people could come together to focus on a common mission. A New Product Team would focus on what is right for the new product; a business development team would focus on what is right for the business.

Many teams achieved success, but most were unreliable. Many teams simply degenerated into “hand-to-hand combat” as team members brought their functional turf wars into the team setting. Functional managers, who were more loyal to their function and boss than to the business, often thwarted team recommendations and action — creating a team vs. management battle that management was best equipped to win. Participation on teams was often sporadic because members typically had to do their full time job in addition to participating on a team. And few team members had the basic knowledge and skills to achieve high performance in the team setting.

In the big picture it did not matter much that teams were inconsistent in their performance. Success in the Industrial Age came largely form size and efficiency, not from responsiveness and agility. It was the age when dinosaurs ruled.

Beyond the Industrial Age — Right things, Right the First Time

The large and stable Industrial Age organization is rapidly becoming the slow moving dinosaur in an age that moves @ the speed of thought. Faced with instability and change, today's organizations must be agile in applying learning and responsive to changing circumstances. They must figure out the right things to do, and than do those things right the first time.

One approach to creating more agile and responsive organizations is to intuitionalism teams into the hierarchal organization. Moving from teams vs. management to teams and management creates a new organizational paradigm that increase the organization's ability to quickly determine the right things to do, and do them right the first time.

Consulting Services

Tap into our knowledge and experience to institutionalize teams into your organization's structure. We work with you to design the right team structure for your business. Once the right structure is identified, we have the expertise and experience to implement that structure right the first time.

Virtual Business Organization

Positioning teams as integration points at each level of the organization creates a Virtual Business Organization of high performance teams.

When participating on these teams individuals are freed from their specialist's roles, institutional rules, and their bosses' control. This creates an environment where people are free to use their innovation and creativity to focus on doing the right things.

Cross-Functional Integration

Self-Directed Work Teams, New Product Development Teams and Major Project Teams create an environment where production, professional, and technical level employees come together to determine the right thing to do for a manufacturing line, a product or a project. Once the team determines the right thing to do, team members go back into the hierarchy and do those things right the first time.

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Business Integration

Business Development Teams create an environment where mid-managers can come together to determine the right things to do for the business. Their freedom to be innovative and creative allows these teams to develop the right, and best, business plans and strategies. Once these plans are approved, functional managers go back into their hierarchical roles and align functional budgets and tactics with the business plans and strategies.

Strategic Integration

Forming Executive Strategic teams takes executives out of the Operational role of running their functions into a strategic role of setting long-term strategies and tactics. Using their freedom to be innovative and creative allows these teams to develop the right, and best, business strategies. Once consensus is achieved, executives go back into their hierarchical roles and align their functional budgets and plans with the organization's long-term strategy.

Right Things, Right the First Time

Cross-functional teams determine the right things to do for production lines, new products and projects. In doing so they will generate a great deal of information and analysis that business teams will gather and correlate to develop knowledge. This knowledge is used by the business team and functional management to develop better business plans and to set priorities among cross-functional teams.

Executive Strategic Teams integrate and synthesize the knowledge generated by business teams to create wisdom. This wisdom is applied to developing better long-term strategies and for setting priorities across business.

Executives turn to the functional side of the organization and drive strategies, tactics and actions down the organization, confident that they are doing the right things for the business. When these “orders” come down they are quickly accepted and implemented because people are confident they are doing the right things and not just some arbitrary management program.

From Teams to Knowledge Bases

Information technology is providing organizations with the collaborative tools to turn teams into knowledge bases in cyber space. Teams in the Industrial Age were team member dependent because all knowledge resided with team members. Information Age teams are relatively team member independent because knowledge can be stored in cyber space where it is accessible 24/7/365 — team members can change, but the knowledge base remains.

Benefits

  • Increased responsiveness to learning and changing circumstances at each level of the hierarchy
  • Creation of self-directed employees who require minimal supervision, allowing the organization to run much leaner
  • Maximizing ownership and commitment to create a highly motivated work force
  • Virtual Business Teams are easily re-organized without physical movement of people or things
  • Dramatic increase in the productivity of business decision making
  • Increased resource utilization
  • Increased risk taking
  • Increased innovation and creativity