As we work with major organizations undergoing HR transformation (and many are still underway), we find variants of the three-pronged HR delivery model (business partners, HR operations and centers of expertise) popularized by David Ulrich over 20 years ago. One recurring challenge is freeing up Business Partners to fulfill the strategic relationship building and brokering role envisioned in many, if not most HR models.
Everyone has limited resources. Everyone must choose where value will and will not be offered. Understanding and appreciating this enables organizations to focus limited resources on the most strategic and differentiating activities. It enables leaders to be smart about where they prune costs. Believing that your organization can do everything—that it can be everything for everyone—prevents an organization from really differentiating itself in a sustainable way.
The typical organizational design process is like drawing a blueprint, building a house, and moving in. This is the familiar strategy-structure-staffing sequence that has come to dominate the practice. Ongoing organization effectiveness work in emerging markets is revealing that this tried and true pattern for effective organization design still applies, but there are some unique considerations that need to be grappled during the push forward into a new frontier. We will highlight four key issues—speed, entry and evolution, leadership development, and unique design needs—that can change the rules when doing organization design in high-potential markets.
We’ve all heard many times the idea that “people will do what they’re measured on.” Is it really true? If I told you that the defect rate for this company’s premier product dropped from 12% to 1% in only three weeks and then further declined to 0.5% in just three more weeks, you’d probably think I was making it up. Well, that is exactly the result that occurred—and it occurred solely from beginning to measure quality in parallel with measuring productivity (in this case, speed). Perhaps what is even more revealing is that there was no incentive linked to quality improvement. All the while, workers were being paid a bonus for speed—which, incidentally, did not suffer when quality improved. That they were not being equally rewarded for quality made no difference. The metrics alone changed their behavior.
One vicious reality facing organizations today is the need to have a clear strategy. With the unlimited opportunities and choices out there, the challenge is making choices that support, reinforce, and align with your organization’s strategy. Without a strategy, the only chance for success is winning the ‘operational efficiency rat-race,’ which is the zero-sum game of cutting costs and enhancing productivity at a pace faster than competitors. More than one company has found itself drowning in the noise of ‘strategic static’—lowering costs and attempting to survive the rat race.