Sunday, May 25, 2008

Leadership - Opportunities lost in the flat organisation

Lots of workplaces are going through the joy of middle management being removed or drastically reduced, often referred to as flattening the organisation. The planned result in theory is if there are less layers of management then the organisation will be running more efficiently and produce more cash for the shareholders.

Observing changes in many organisations recently I have seen this flattening of the organisation have another effect which is killing the organisation off. Leadership opportunities are being stifled.

Talk to any manager and he will let you know his aim is to raise his team's utilisation better than 80% and he will be a happy man. So what happens as each team member approaches their ceiling of utilisation, they tend to get bogged down in the process required to run at 100%.

Interestingly when we examine the bulk of the leadership traints we see tasks such as influencing others, envisioning our team, developing new ideas to streamline our business activities. What do all of these require - time, however each member of our team now has very little time left - we just robbed them. So if we are a management guru we would say this is great we have raised our utilisation to a high level.

Long term we have taken the strategic leadership away from the our team and we have replaced it with the short term tactical advantage of improved efficiency, but how do we get the balance right? With no strategic improvement we will be overtaken by our competitors after our current processes become left behind in our focus on maximum efficiency and no improvements from within.

So while we are driven from above to make our team more efficient, we need to ensure our team members have time to develop their ideas and let their leadership come out and show.

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