Whether it is your intention, has morphed and evolved your organization most likely operates with a top-down approach. This typically is known as a “Command and Control” model where the leader barks direction which cascades down through the organization with a hope that the front-line employees follow and execute the desires of the leader.
As we walk through organizations, we constantly witness this effect … whether it is intended or not. Most organizational leaders will emphatically state that they are all about listening to their people and how their people are the most valuable asset they have … Yeah But !!
At the first stage of turbulence the first attribute to be jettisoned are people. People also known as labour is considered a controllable variable expense which can be quickly discarded. Unfortunately, during the discard process in addition to minimizing the expense they without knowing it are discarding “Tribal Knowledge”, muscle memory and in essence the DNA that has become the brand of the organization.
Even as we wander the facilities 95% of data being collected is only projected back to the team in the form of fancy graphs depicting data that in essence cannot be controlled by the front-line people tasked with execution … so it really is meaningless other than to pacify the leadership that perhaps they have a communications model with their team.
With the inverted Triangle model Leadership becomes almost more important. Every organization needs Vision and a Strategic compass to direct the entire organization.
Once this has been established it is then time for the leadership to stand out of the way and allow the organization to realize and convert the Vision into some realistic and that can be quantified. This where I often witness whether the DNA of the organization revolves around having employees or individuals that act and feel comfortable acting as owners.
Many years ago while working on a board for a non-profit I was Exposed to an operating style referred to as the “Carver Model” … which was something defined by a very smart person … but in essence I took away the following and it really resonated with me … which I paraphrase …
As a Leader look across your organization like you are viewing a baseball diamond. Where are your “Foul Lines” and how much latitude are you allowing your people to play between the foul lines before they need to seek clarification. So imagine a baseball game without foul lines where the batter would need to refer with the umpire after every ball he hits to determine if they could proceed to the next base … the game would be much slower and exponentially increase in boredom.
So as a Leader continue to establish your Vision, Mission and strategy … but do not fall into the weeds to attempt to define tactile execution but rather work to define what will be your organizational foul lines will be. Hopefully with a moral compass … and then of course “Get OUT OF the WAY !!!” and rely on the capability of your employees to execute.
Of course their Key Performance Indicators should be levers that they can directly impact and they can personally adjust their behaviours that will impact their direct performance. No sense attempting to educate them on EBITA but rather have them focus on how to shave a minute from, for example, how they unload and register a truck shipment. This is something they can directly control and measure … where you as a leader have been anointed with the responsibility to understand how to convert and translate actions into a EBITA number.
Is Leadership still important in the inverted Triangle model ??? Absolutely … back to the baseball game … the players know the objective of the game … win … how? The team with the most recoded runs and they understand where the foul lines exist … so ultimately, they are responsible for execution. But wait, we still have a Leader in this example the coach who while the execution is being deployed operates as a key observer and gently guides and adjusts how the play is being executed but they are not able to adjust where the foul lines exist. However, after the game and between games they are studying the results and making critical decisions that can reformulate the execution strategy.
Which takes me back to when turbulence strikes … don’t jettison your variable labour but raher tap into their entrepreneurial capability … I was once tasked to reduce my labour in order to meet the EBITA target but I had a significant problem with material yield. We decided to take the problem and make it an opportunity and challenged our people to find ways to optimize our yield enough to off-set the disposal of 4 fellow team members … guess what they found me 6 people equivalents. Had I shed the labour as instructed I would still have the same problem instead, I became an industry leader due to better material yields and my increased yield allowed me to increase market share without sacrificing price or margin.
So are you prepared to invert your operating Triangle? Give your team room to execute and make sure that you have visual feed-back loops that will allow them to constantly measure success or to rapidly adjust accordingly. Of course you will need to apply some moral compass within your rules … like no stealing, no killing but perhaps that spelling does not count and ditch those fancy graphs and go back to pencil and paper to create valuable wall art depicting process success.