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Archive for August, 2013

3 Reasons Your Org Chart is Worthless

AA008821I know it’s your sacred cow. You spent hundreds of hours perfecting your org chart. It is a visual flexing of your organizational design prowess. It explains in detail the channels of decision making and communication in your organization. I am here to tell you that your org chart is worthless. It isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. While some may wax eloquent of the virtues of your creation – I say it’s a waste of time. Most all org charts are nothing more than idols we pay homage. Org charts represent a 19th century ideal of command-control with focus mainly on the leader(s) at the pinnacle of the chart. Even in a matrix org chart there is a top and bottom. No matter how flashy. No matter how descriptive your chart is – it is worthless.

First – org charts represent a structure that bottle-necks decision making and limits agility. If you want to see where the problems are in your organization, you need not look any further than your org chart (if you can find it). If you were to take an earnest survey of your organization you might find that your structure slows down decisions making and impacts the overall agility of your organization. The truth of the matter is that the 21st century organization will seek greater flexibility as its access to full time human capital diminishes. Your organization can’t be any better IF your organizational structure is cumbersome. Your org chart is a safety blanket that gives you absolutely no real coverage. Ask yourself this… how long does it take for a decision to be made. Does your front line have to ask their manager for approval for everything? Are you hiring based on an outdated slot on your org chart or are you hiring the best and empowering them to do their jobs?

Second – This is not how systems work in the natural world. Organizations are flattening and embracing self-leadership and a more open approach to the process of business. Organizations must find organic approaches to dealing with change and innovation. One such emerging concept is that of a decentralized organization, otherwise defined as the Open Organization. The end result is not to abolish organizational structures but to create a more flexible flow of ideas and processes that meets the needs of each individual within the organization as they pursue the goals of the organization and its stakeholders. Because of the complexity of business today, it is difficult to visually chart an Open Organization or organic forming structure.

Third – we don’t use them. The sad reality is this. Few organizations spend countless hours to actually USE their org chart. That’s right, we design them and then we stick them in a notebook somewhere and will rarely engage them again. I would argue that by the time the proverbial ink dries, your market silo has shifted and your org chart is now out of date. In our globalized economy, your org chart has the shelf life of milk at room temperature.

Here is a simple test. If you feel that you will lose control of your employees and your organization, then you’re running your organization based on command-and-control. This is a strong hierarchical approach where your organization is very much a top-down approach to leading where the bottom of the org chart is focused on completing the commands of the upper tier of the organization. The problem with this approach is that the bottom tier should be focused on the client and their needs rather than the objectives of the leadership. Like it or not, organizations are forced to become more competitive. If you don’t hire the best, empower them, and then get out of their way so that they can do their job – your organization is in trouble.

While I believe that org charts will be with us for some time. I believe that there will be a day when the only org charts we encounter will be in highly regulated industry, government institutions, and the military.  I challenge you… don’t waste one more moment on an org chart. Spend that time exploring how you can create agility and openness in your organization. It’s a new era… it’s the 21st century. It is time we starting acting like a 21st century organization.

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PIC3Dr. Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

The Death of the Manager (the coming extinction)

09wquestion-1346176260458I am not ready to send you to a museum to study the habits and hang-ups of the 20th century manager just yet. But I do see this as an opportunity to create dialogue related to the death of management as we know it. I am in no way abdicating that organizations of the future will be leaderless. I am however sounding the alarm that leaders must find a way to redefine themselves before it is too late. The trends are already proving that organizations are flattening their hierarchies and are doing more with less human capital. The greatest threat to the manager today is denial that things will change whether they are ready or not. The problem, as I see it, is that most all managers are classically trained in business schools to run an organization via the classic command-and-control hierarchy. Many business schools are failing us in that they teach leaders a 19th century approach to leadership. Add to this confusion a 20th century approach to human relations and you have a pending ice age of epic proportions over the field of management. Management is evolving into something greater than a single position of status. Organizations are not moving to leaderless insomuch as they are trending toward self-leadership models. Self-leadership is where everyone contributes from their own strength and skill-set. Everyone has a say in the strategy and direction of the organization as a whole.

I was recently involved in a dialogue with some business colleagues on the matter of who is responsible for the strategy and its achievement in an organization. The crux of the conversation was around why strategies fail. I argued strongly for the coming of the flatter more agile organization that moves away from the idea of a leader dictating vision, goals and process. As you can imagine some of us old school classically trained leaders pushed back on this notion. There is no question in my mind that the state of leadership is in transition. We are about to see the greatest shift in organizational leadership since Fredrick Taylor adopted the Scientific Management approach to production in the 1890s. In an effort to give structure to this idea of self-led organizations, I have adopted the idea of the Open Organization. An Open Organization is simply a method of self-leadership in which individuals participate in the movement of an organization from their strengths. The Open Organization is a decentralized structure which trends away from authoritarian management styles, separatist titles and privileges of multilevel hierarchies found mostly in the 19th and 20th century. So, what are we to do to save our managers? First we should acknowledge the correlation between effective leadership and how much autonomy is given to the followers. A leader who does not trust their followers appear to have the most trouble with change. Leaders who do not trust are most likely to be the ones that go extinct first. Leaders must learn the art of empowerment of their followers. The power behind the Open Organization is that people already tend to self-manage when everyone else can see what they’re doing. Open allows other people jump in when they notice something amiss and of course everyone learns when anyone makes a mistake or does something brilliant. The agility of the organization is the key to the extinction of the manager. Manager’s and hierarchies tend to strangle agility, bogging the organization down in the process of decision making. The organization of the future must be unfettered to make decisions else, it too will die. Now is the time for managers to adapt or expire. We leaders must redefine our roles in relation to our organizations effectiveness. The world is pressed on all sides by a diminishing full-time workforce as well as differing cultural, generational, political, and religious views. The organization of the 21st century must be more agile than ever before. Organizational design is essential to how the organization deals with the challenges it now faces. We no longer can afford to lead a 21st century organization with 19th and 20th century models and processes.

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PIC3Dr. Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

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Finding passion and your WHY in your story

01-leadershipHave you ever been in a conversation with someone and they say one word that speaks so deeply to you that you automatically zone out? That happened to me recently when I was talking (whining really) to a friend about some challenges in my life. The friend said something to the effect that we have to find a way to tell our story so that it speaks to others. That is when it hit me in the back of my head and started spreading like a cerebral forest fire. I immediately remembered back in 2000 when I started a manufacturing business out of the kitchen of my 900SF apartment. It started as a natural soap company and grew in three short years into a spa products manufacturing business in a 1000 SF facility. We were shipping product all over the world. We were featured in Redbook Magazine, Vegan Times, newspapers all over the world, QVC and even Fortune Magazine’s “500 Up and Coming Franchise Opportunities.” While our products were all natural, they were nothing unique for the market at the time. What I discovered that sold our products was our story of humble beginnings. Yes, there was that element again – my story. It occurred to me as I was talking with this friend that I’ve not really told my story very well. I was offering vanilla in a world screaming for Fudge Swirl with a cherry on top. I was assuming that my pedigree was enough to interest people in what I was doing. Nowhere was I telling my story that speaks to my passions and the “WHY” of what I was offering potential clients.

Using my friend’s analogy, my story is layered like an onion. With each layer comes a complexity that makes me who I am. I will begin my story in the 5th grade. I was never a stellar student in elementary school. I was labeled hyper-active and learning disabled – an Interesting diagnosis given that I am neither. My 5th grade teacher encouraged my parents to hold me back another year and my parents were basically told to prepare themselves that I would be lucky to finish high school and would likely end up working labor jobs to earn a living. My parents held me back (which they later regretted). I was now labeled the kid that wouldn’t amount to anything. I tell you this because, I earned my Eagle Scout award, graduated from High School with honors, attended a 4 year university and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. I later went back for a Masters in Organizational Leadership and in December 2013 will complete my work on a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with a GPA of 3.89. I have traveled the world lecturing. I am a published author and have a growing following on twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., and I adjunct at Middle Tennessee State University. So there is my pedigree, but what does that have to do with my passion and my “WHY”? My passion and my WHY has everything to do with the fact that I was not supposed to be here. If I had listened to someone else’s opinion of me, I shouldn’t have accomplished any of this. My passion… my WHY is my drive to help others do better than what is expected. In my 20+ years of business experience, I’ve learned that the way we “DO” business is flawed. We don’t have to run business the way we do. We don’t have to treat our employees the way we do. We don’t have to build organizational structures the way we do. We should not be using 19th century ideas to run a 21st century organization.

My story… I want people to move past what the world thinks they ought to be and move into what they are called to be. I want to help people move past the false stories that they tell themselves. My calling is to help people and the organizations they serve to achieve new levels of efficiency and empowerment. I help people stand in the future and imagine possibilities others have ignored. My story is about taking what others have given up on and creating the empowerment needed to move to an extraordinary existence. When we change the story we tell and the way we view our future – we have the power to create a fantastic future for ourselves and for everyone around us.

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PIC3Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership candidate with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.