Among the wonders of Jan 20, 2009, i.e. yesterday, was the transformation of The White House website at precisely 12 noon. "Change has come to America," it trumpets, and for those who've been logging into the campaign site and its successor, change.gov, you can see how quickly change has come to this top-est of government sites. Lots of info, lots, easy to read, written in plain English. Well done, webbies, whoever you are.
Among the many useful aspects of the site is clarity as to what purpose is served by which office and who's running it. See, for example, the Executive Office of the President.
What's not here, and what Jeff Stamps and I have been harping on lo these many weeks of the transition, is an easily accessible org chart, as vibrant in its transparency as the rest of what's happening. Frequent readers already know that we've being following our new president's dictum and have taken matters into our own hands. As each new nomination and appointment has been made, we've thrown that person's name into the proper position in our US Government Map.
But volunteers like us can only take this so far -- and we, the people, really need a transparent org chart of the whole government, one that tells us who's doing what, whom they work with, what their agencies' purposes are, how large their budgets are...and so on and etc.
You get the idea. A map. A see-through, publicly available, easy-to-navigate, interconnected chart of the whole of government. Once you've got the basic map, then you can make wise choices about reorganization. Otherwise, as countless reorganizations of enterprises of any magnitude have shown us, the act of moving, merging, and deleting boxes is largely guesswork.
Over the past few weeks, Jeff Stamps and I have been posting a series of NetAge Reports about how to reorganize intelligently and relatively painlessly. (All the reports, compiled into one, are at this link: "Virtual Reorganization: How to Create Smarter, Better, Faster Organizations without Moving the Boxes Around.") Today, we're posting a summary here, hitting the high points about how to do this and why it's important.
We had a record number of hits on our site yesterday. Many people are pulling up the org chart we've compiled. Tells us something, something important: people want and need this information--fast. Here then a summary on the transparent, digital org chart and the express route to reorganization:
How to Create Smarter, Better, Faster Organizations
without Moving the Boxes Around
Done well, virtual reorganization is a low-cost, high-yield performance improvement strategy.
Good organization designs offer largely untapped resources for productivity in big hierarchies and bureaucracies. The right structures can be keys to unlocking performance potential trapped in the wrong ones. Poor organization carries great risks: it can lead to poor results, the inability to adapt to change, chronic proneness to instability, and, in some cases, complete collapse.
At a time when the web is nearly ubiquitous—as is information technology in general—organizations have the capacity to reorganize in ways that lead to their being collectively smarter, better, and faster. Such capacities are critical in meeting challenges and seizing opportunities in the tumult of change.
The collapse of so many institutions at the same time screams out for reorganization, now unavoidable and now underway in all sectors. But before you whip out your organization chart and start crossing off boxes or stripping out layers, you would be well advised to remember this: simplistic reorganization often makes things worse.
We recommend three interrelated actions, each with its own benefits that lead to smarter and more sustainable reorganization:
1st, visualize in order to see the whole organization as it is and how it might be;
2nd, analyze the organization’s positions to identify “hotspots” and reveal unexpected patterns ingrained in the system; and
3rd, reorganize virtually, by quickly and intelligently drawing lines where none existed before, reorganizing physically only where necessary.
To start the process of smart reorganization, first the enterprise needs an accurate picture of itself. Ask anyone in an organization for its org chart and typically you’re handed a piece of paper—or sent to a website—with a box-and-wire diagram showing a few dozen positions. Whether the organization in question has fifty employees or 50,000, the charts generally look the same—and the request for one rarely, if ever, produces an accurate map of the whole thing.
What this means is that the vast majority of people in control are running organizations whose true size, shape, and structure they never really see. Thus, the initial act is to create and maintain an accurate digitized organization chart that represents the entire reporting structure, one that is visible, navigable, and analyzable (see live example). With such a chart in hand, the organization then can:
Publish public versions to the web so that anyone can access the map, leading to improved transparency, trust, and cross-organization collaboration;
Overlay reporting relationships with additional matrix, team, process, and information connections that intersect positions regardless of who holds them, making for more cohesive, better “networked” organizations and providing greater insight into the complexity of each job;
Attach missions, goals, and budgets to each organizational unit, making purposes and resource allocations visible; and
Link public data related to each position, including physical location, wiki pages, websites, physical and virtual contact information.
Better match people to the requirements of each position and understand its impact on the organization as a whole;
Design internal communication strategies that allow leaders to reach everyone very quickly with key messages and information, thus avoiding the traditional communication cascade that is prone to message distortion;
Craft individual development plans that reflect people’s true leadership responsibilities;
Allocate HR and IT resources to support those with the greatest need and potential to contribute to overall organizational improvement;
Simultaneously, analyze the map of the organization’s reporting structure using simple tools from network management science. Even rudimentary analysis allows an organization to quickly determine the management load of each position, pinpointing which jobs have the most potential for performance improvement and which are at greatest risk for burnout. With these results in hand, management is then in a position to:
From the beginning of the mapping process, the development of org charts at all levels itself engages discussion about the purposes, roles, relationships that touch each executive, supervisory, and staff position along with their associated organizations. In many cases, this will naturally catalyze local improvements and sets the stage for cross-organizational reorganization using both physical and virtual strategies. The virtual approaches are:
Strategy One: Implement e-Government, Externally and Internally
Strategy Two: Institute Coordinating Councils and Communities of Practice
Strategy Three: Stimulate Collaboration with Virtual Teams of Leaders
Develop issue-based coordination councils and task forces that connect the fixed positional boxes in new configurations to meet reorganization goals;
Support cross-organizational collaboration with virtual teams of leaders and make the network of teams visible for better end-to-end results;
Experiment with different designs to see how the analytic metrics affect communication and decision-making;
Grow communities of practice to engage the wisdom and leadership of everyone in the organization; and
Use the “reorganized” and enriched map to help people understand the changes and gain a view of the organization as a whole, thus enabling them to make better local decisions that fi.
With these strategies, organizations can: