Your Structure needs to Change before You Create Demand


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In one of my favorite books,The Path of Least Resistance for Managers author Robert Fritz states:

People are fond of saying, “Well, that’s our culture.” They seem to think that the cultural norms and habits of the organization are causal. But what creates the cultures? The underlying structures people are in.

In fact, it is the structure of the position that produces the consistent pattern of behavior, not the usual things people say that cause human motivation and behavior. Think of all the money that is wasted on Myers Briggs and other such personality profiling systems that assume it is one’s personality type will predict his or her performance. The real cause of how well people will perform or not perform comes from the underlying structure they are in, no matter what their personality types. Organizational Structure

But personality profiles are a telltale sign that people within organizations think situationally rather than
structurally. They think if they get the right personality type, they will succeed. They are completely unaware that whomever they engage, the underlying structure will determine the degree to which they will succeed or fail. If we change the structure of the position, the performance pattern will change. If we don’t change the structure, no matter who attempts to succeed in that position, he or she will fail including the most competent people available who have what is said to be the most ideal personality profile.

This resembles the principles of “>Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results in the discussion of structures and resistance. But it brings to the forefront why I believe that the principles that I discsuss in my Marketing with Lean Book Series and most particularly in the Lean Engagement Team book. I highlight this in the blog post; Success is based on more than just luck.

We have to change the structure to create demand. Our organizations will not adopt without this change. Review Blog posts, When Efficiencies and Innovation no longer work, is Customer Centricity the answer? and The Uniqueness of Hoshin Kanri. In the former post, I discuss how catchball is used and is a great template for how we must engage not only internally but externally. It is that type of thinking that will accelerate our understanding or our customer and their customer needs. It is our structure not our people, not our products or services that need innovation.

One such description is by Dave Gray through his recent book, The Connected Company. Dave is my podcast guest tomorrow and I asked him when we were talking about this subject, “How does that relate to the connected company?”

Dave: I talked about, for lack of a better word, the industrial age company, which is a form of a company that most of us are familiar with today, that still most of us work in. It’s a company that’s based on this principle of division of labor. At a very fundamental level, these are divided companies. A connected company is, in many ways, the opposite of a divided company, so it’s not based on the principle of division of labor. It’s based, actually, on a principle that’s more like the connection of labor. To put a little meat around that, you think about the way that we organize work today. We divide up the work, and different people have different parts of the work.

That works really well in a factory environment when you’re producing a single thing, and you want to produce it at volume, that people can specialize on their little piece of the puzzle, “I’m the guy who puts the hubcaps on,” or whatever. You can specialize on that little piece, and the work can be done very efficiently.

But, the same principles do not apply when you’re delivering services. When you deliver a service, it’s very important that you have a sense of the whole at all times. When you’re in a manufacturing environment, it’s OK to own a task, but a service experience is very different. If you’re providing a service, you have to own the customer. You have to own the customer’s problem, not just a task, and we all know what this feels like.

In the above mentioned book,The Path of Least Resistance for Managers (If you purchase my copy from me on Amazon (I must be the shipper), I will include the Marketing with Lean (Marketing with Lean Book Series on CDrom)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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