Focus-Design Your Organization

Focus-Design Your Organization

One of my members recently said that it is easier to start a new organization than it is to change one. Pretend that you are starting over. You are the architect. Design your organization.

  1.  What is strategic focus or framework of your company?  Three are described in the book, “The Discipline of Market Leaders” by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema. Traecy and Wisera call these value disciplines, product leadership, operational excellence and customer intimacy.  Operational excellence focuses on providing customers with reliable products or services at competitive prices, delivered with minimal difficulty or inconvenience. Product leadership focuses on providing products that continually redefine the state of the art. Customer intimacy focuses on selling the customer a total solution, not just a product or service. Michael Porter, a famous Harvard professor and author, uses two main frameworks; cost and differentiation.  Another famous consulting company uses 6 driving forces.

I’ve seen my members argue over the definitions and how it may or may not make sense for their companies.  The exact definition is not important. What is important is for you to have a crystal clear idea of what your company is offering and how that impacts the design of your company.  If these framework models are useful to help you, then use them.  If not, then modify them. Keep clarifying until you have such a vivid picture that you can describe it to anyone.

2.  How will you deliver the above value to the market?  Culture. To be most effective, you must design it too.

Start with values.  What top 5 (See Cheryl’s rule of 5 below) behaviors do you want to instill?   They must be consistent with how you go to market.  For example, Apple is a product leadership company where design expertise is valued more than customer relationships.  Steve Jobs doesn’t care if his customers are cranky. He doesn’t ask customers for their opinions.  They do no market research. He cares that Apple’s products meet his standards.  They know how to design and build world changing products.  Long hours and near impossible standards for product development drive the culture.  And, the culture is almost perfectly designed and aligned with Apple’s product leadership framework.

 WalMart is another example.  Their mission is to provide products at a price that the everyday folks can afford.  They mandate efficiency from their internal processes and outside suppliers.  Standardization is the name of their game which leaves little room for flexibility.

 Most cultures I see just happen.  They are an accumulation of the past; past employees, past fears, past failures, old policies, old technology, which adds up to; that’s just the way we do things here.

 3. What type of leadership does the culture need?  How easy or difficult is it for you to adapt your leadership to your designed culture?  Be honest.  If your personality isn’t congruent, then find someone who has a leadership style consistent with the culture to help lead.

 Performance is negatively influenced if your strategic framework, culture and leadership are out of alignment. Intentionally design them to work together.

Implied in my definition of focus is clarity.  After your design is complete, I want you to paint me a picture with your words.  A picture so clear, that I feel it, explain it and understand it as well as you do.

Cheryl’s Rule of 5

More than 5 of anything is same as having 75; too much.  Too much  is as confusing as nothing.  Whether it is goals or values, narrow them down to 5.

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