COO Structure & Team – Option 1: Staff Leader with a Dedicated Team


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The advantage with a staff leadership role is that the customer work is not layered on an already bubbling over plate of line responsibilities. This means that someone is tapped to give focus and discipline to the customer effort. Reporting should be as high up inside the organization as required, based on the level of change needed inside the organization. When companies commit to these staff positions, it is frequently at the behest of the president or chief executive. This is an optimum solution. Most important, a staff position does not call a silo home. This enables the CCO to cut a swath through the organization in the name of the chief executive

  • This structure has the best of both worlds
  • The position commands the attention of the senior executives
  • It’s staffed to get something accomplished

The top row of boxes represents the disciplines that should exist as staff positions on the team. These skills should either reside in staff or be acquired from the outside. In any event, the staff needs to be able to facilitate the organization in developing these skills. You do not necessarily need a staff member for each of the disciplines. This will depend on the size of your organization and the scale of the effort you are undertaking.

The “functional expert” boxes denote the team of people you should assemble from within the silos to drive the work cross-functionally across the organization.

For example, in the insurance business work, we had functional experts from the organizations of claims, marketing, operations, underwriting and sales on our team. The goal is to rotate these team members into the customer team at six to twelve month intervals.

Functional Experts – Teach Them to Fish
This structure of rotating the functional experts through the customer organization is based on the “teach them to fish” theory.

By bringing functional practitioners onto the customer team, they learn firsthand what the company is trying to accomplish. They get a taste of the skills required to think and act differently. Their role as a member of the customer team is to represent their operating area in the development of solutions. The thought is that as a continued active member of their functional area, when they rejoin their home base in meetings and in doing work, they bring the new learning about the customer work to bear. As people rotate through the customer group, more and more functional experts begin to understand what needs to be done where they live, well beyond the conceptual hocus-pocus that the work some- times seems to be. This works well to create lasting change as the functional experts adopt the approaches over time in the way they do work.

Pros for this Option
• Most overall control in managing the moving parts of companywide change
• Requires great leadership commitment ahead of time to yield better results once work begins
• Rotating staff into the customer group breeds home-grown talent for driving customer-centered change once they go back to their operating area

Cons for this Option
• Large resource commitment
• Tough sell if leadership is not ready
• Possibly viewed by some areas of the operation as too controlling or powerful

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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