The organizational x-ray

 In Industry News

It is the end of August. Your fiscal year ends 31st December. It is three and a half months from [slider title=”now”] Christmas, which always makes December a short month [/slider]. You are behind budget. Your pipeline is weak. Your costs are too high. You spend too much time in meetings nagging about who should assume the blame for the problems. Good people are leaving the company on short notice.

What can you do?

We are all constantly faced with short term challenges. With a three and a half months’ sprint to the finish line you cannot solve your challenges with a fire/hire approach, you cannot replace your CRM system, you cannot introduce a leadership development program. You must do something that works here and now!

Short term challenges require actions that optimize the use of the resources we already have.

The hidden potential

Most organizations have a hidden potential. The potential can be released if you can align all management resources behind one set of objectives and the strategy for achieving these.

Fig. 1. Forces applied in different directions will have a negative impact on the speed and change the direction

Newton taught us that the resulting force of movements in different directions is much less than the sum of the forces. The same applies for organizations. If you have a 7 person management team and each is pulling in even slightly different directions, the productivity loss will be substantial.

The management team may not be aware that they are misaligned. They may actually be convinced that they are completely in sync.

Very few companies have a systematic way of checking alignment. They have meetings and discussions, but a simple check will reveal substantial differences in the perceptions of what the common objectives and the strategy actually are.

The only way to check for alignment is to ask each member of the management team the same set of questions and compare the answers.

The x-ray narrowed the room for interpretation

The x-ray technology is one of the most disrupting inventions ever made. It gives us instant data on hidden issues. The x-ray enables us to make decisions based on data that we cannot obtain through other means. It dramatically narrows the room for interpretation.

Interpretation is one of the biggest problems when a team of people needs to take urgent action. When there are very few facts available and management is unused to making urgent decisions, then people base their judgements on their gut feeling. They make interpretations based on their experience and personality. The discussions are biased by the people with most organizational clout. Such decision-making scenarios are dangerous. Any action plan born out of interpretations and feelings and biased by one or two team members is bound to fail. And most short term action plan fails exactly because:

  1. There is no set system for dealing with urgent matters
  2. As there is no data on the root cause, each team member works according to his own interpretation
  3. There are no “objective” objectives
  4. The actions are unclear and unsupported
  5. Progress cannot really be monitored

The organizational x-ray

Spider web mapping is an excellent way to represent differences in a group

The availability of low cost web based questionnaire and reporting platforms, such as SurveyMonkey, have provided us with the organizational x-ray. We can take pictures of our organization and have them developed in minutes. And the pictures don’t lie.

The challenges with finding the hidden organizational “disease” however, are equivalent to using x-ray technology. You will have to know how to “take the picture” and how to “interpret the results”. This means that you will need to know which questions to ask, how to ask them and how to present the responses.

It is unlikely that companies have the resources to take organizational x-rays in-house. Fortunately there are consulting companies specializing in this area and the cost of doing a web based survey is much less than the traditional approaches to organizational development.

This video is giving an example of the organizational x-ray.



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