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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

  • January 16, 2022
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The single largest unused resource in your organization 

Listen to Les McKeown read this blog post:

The org chart is an unloved document. No-one believes it, it’s unlikely to be up to date, and unless a merger or acquisition is in the air, it rarely sees the light of day.

So read this slowly: Your org chart is the single largest unused resource in your entire organization.

If you watched me walk past, say, an Aston Martin Vantage Volente sitting in my driveway every day and instead jump into a beaten-up 17-year old Camry, you’d think I was either crazy or … well, you’d probably just think I was crazy.

And yet I see growth leaders do the organizational equivalent of exactly that, every day, all day.

Here’s the deal: To successfully grow any organization, the one and only thing you need to do is to make good team-based  decisions – frequently and consistently.

Making good team-based decisions frequently and consistently is tiring, stressful and hard to maintain. Wouldn’t it be great if you had…let’s say… a machine for effective team-based decision-making…?

Well, as a growth leader, turns out you do: it’s called your org chart, and it’s sitting there waiting for you in the garage drawer, just where you left it yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that.

All that you need to do is dust it off, turn the ignition, and use it. Simple.

"To successfully grow any organization, the one and only thing you need to do is to make good team-based decisions – frequently and consistently." - Les McKeown, Founder and CEO, Predictable Success

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And, amazingly, there are only two things you need to do to turn your org chart into an effective machine for decision-making:

1. Redesign it.

This sounds time-consuming and unnecessary but is in fact both essential and (relatively) simple.

Simply take a copy of your existing org chart and a colored crayon or marker. Using the marker, draw lines between people who communicate frequently (if you don’t know who communicates with who in your organization you have a deeper problem, but for now, go find out).

The more two people communicate, the thicker the line you should draw.

Where the lines you have drawn match the lines on the existing org chart, all is well. Where they don’t, your org chart isn’t working as an effective machine for decision-making, and you need to either...

(a) Change your org chart to reflect the existing reality, 

(b) Change the behaviors of one or more people who aren’t communicating but should, or

(c) Fire or relocate someone because they’re consistently and deliberately not communicating effectively in their current position.

 Your call.

2. Add a third dimension (optional if you have less than 25 employees).

Org charts are two-dimensional at best – they only show vertical and lateral communications.

If you have an organization with more than say 25 or so employees, it is certain that your 2-D org chart does not reflect a lot of the formal and informal cross-functional communications (extending across functional silos, and up and down through levels of seniority) that actually make the team-based decisions about many of the more complicated issues you face.

Have someone take time to record this third dimension of decision-making as an integral part of your org chart.

You can show the cross-functional teams as an appendix or as a ‘call-out’ on the side of the page – just so long as you show them: they’re just as important and as inherent to effective decision-making (if not more so) than the 2-D command and control boxes in the traditional org chart. 

Don’t get hung up on chasing down every small cross-functional interaction – just get the big obvious ones for now and add more later - a company wiki is great for this.  

Bingo...Your org chart is now an effective and efficient machine for team-based decision making.

Six or nine months from now, pull out the org chart (the one that includes cross-functional teams, if you have them), grab your colored marker and do a reality check.

And don’t touch that Camry.

What about you? Is your Org Chart an effective machine for decision-making?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!


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