Management recession: time for an Organisational Effectiveness (OE) function? Series 1 of 3

This three-part series takes a good look at effectiveness and the case as well as evidence for turning effectiveness into a formal function at the modern organization. We need to stem the entrenched management recession at companies and the ensuing OD. dysfunction – covert and overt

At the Effectiveness-lab, we have for a good number of years been advocates of organizations focusing on elements in their value chain, that when collated, drive and deliver ‘high-level effectiveness’. From the latter, companies amass wealth, or for the not for profit, ‘signature positive impact’

Now, for all our work and others in this space – effectiveness remains a generic affair that lacks a home in the corporate-function discourse. It’s a word so often used in corporate lingo – that even without researching the topic – we know that executives and their teams apply the word, effective, verbally or in writing, not less than a dozen times a day. Effectiveness is so common-talk at companies that it’s taken for granted like the air you breath

Suffice it to say that effectiveness is the glue that binds together the business value chain at the contemporary firm. It links the four main ‘body- parts’ of an organization i.e.:

  • The governance/ownership
  • The executive
  • The mid-level manager
  • And the rank and file staff

Effectiveness spins the processes and accompanying systems throughout the four organizing tiers – for example, it integrates the traditional functions like ICT, HR, Finance, Procurement, etc. into the whole organizational-body and ensures that they deliver value in as seamless, efficient and effective a manner as possible

Unfortunately, it’s in the above interface that the achilles-hill in today’s organization is moulded and sustained – i.e., bringing together the many pieces – and ensuring they all work in sync and still align to a common organisational purpose

For the above to happen, all four tiers at the organization need to fulfill their mandate, as well as remain part of the overall organizational fabric. So, the governance/ownership has to perform the ‘direction-defining’ mandate and accompanying processes and systems, the executive tier has to interpret the direction as given from the layer above it, and translate the same into strategy; the mid-management layer has to supervise the day to day implementation of strategy; and the rank and file tier has to do the sweat-work of operationalizing strategy on the ground

Traditionally- functions/departments like HR, finance, production, procurement, administration, programs, manufacturing support the design of strategy and later, its execution. In effect, the functions are the vehicle that ensures value or impact is created at the firm

Yet, the rate at which firms big and small fail at executing strategy effectively, and ultimately value or impact creation, raises questions about the above traditional and ‘stiff’ approach to organizing business, strategy and its intended outcomes

Such orthodox OD. practice is increasingly undermining effectiveness at companies. Ironically, efficacy is one of the critical outcomes, strategy design, and implementation aim to see attained.

In effect, the traditional manner of organizing business value chains and outcomes thereof, cannibalize parts of the very eco-system – read: effectiveness – that it’s supposed to guarantee. It has become too broad, disjointed, business as usual, centralizing, and ultimately self-defeating

Walk into some of the prominent companies today, in any sector of the economy – get mid-level and rank and file staff in some safe space – and initiate discourse about what the organization could do better, and guess what the likely pointers will be?

  • Too much complexity
  • Strategy dissonance
  • Decision making velocity challenges
  • etc
  • And ultimately, the toll all this confusion brings to an already stressed workforce

Welcome to the age of management-recession; management-recession that turns Peter Drucker and his ilk, in their graves

We need a fix – right? And, may it be that the fix lies in the Organisation Effectiveness (OE) function getting institutionilized at the so-called company?

What is this OE thing? A new function and therefore more jobs?  Another management fad?

See you next week



Categories: Strategy

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  1. Management recession: time for an Organisational Effectiveness (OE) function? Series 2 of 3 – Gabazira's blog

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