Tactics to Make Your Business a Networked Organization, Part 3
In the third and final part of this multipart series on the steps businesses must take to become networked organizations, which details how organizational structures and processes can make managing the demand of a product or service a process-based, predictable and repeatable science, we examine how implementing relationship thinking in favor of process thinking leads to better run businesses.
If your company or unit is growing quickly, you might have five people in a small group who are playing three or four roles each. As you grow, you might have more people playing these roles. You could have 20 people, each of them finding new roles all the time. Each role demands resources to support it.
Meanwhile, human resources is focused on job descriptions. These multiple roles make it a struggle to write job descriptions these days. There's a built-in conflict where people tend to take on the roles they're most suited for — regardless of their job titles.
What happens when you're playing three or four roles? You're evaluated and paid for one job. This happens in business units as well. In a call center, for example, the compensation system typically pays for the job of providing information to customers who ask questions. However, there are at least three other roles that call-center employees play:
- A strategic role, because they know what’s happening with the whole population of partners and customers.
- An advisory role to production, because they're the first to know what customers’ issues are.
- A design role, linking people who are creating new products and services with the customer needs those new products and services must meet.
So frontline call-center employees play all these roles. It requires time, resources and a mastery of technology to work with the information, manage it and share it. Top management must understand the additional value creation, funding those roles and not just paying employees to provide answers to customer questions.
Individuals’ jobs are to define and manage all the multiple roles they play. They should be evaluated for the roles that they play, not for executing a list of tasks. They might get evaluated for one role by one manager, but by another manager for another role. If the job is defined by its roles, then the employee can be evaluated by roles and should be rewarded for playing those roles
Replace Process Thinking with Relationship Thinking
The value network view is a living system — the pattern of life itself is the network. Human society is always multifaceted. We’re the ones who’ve imposed the hierarchy of the organizational chart; we’re the ones who imposed the linear view of the process. Networks are a little bit closer to a more natural understanding of how life itself really works.
People perform work, process maps don't. People collaborate around knowledge. When we design a collaborative value network, it's truly moving to see that people are connected and that we all have to work together to understand and be successful. That kind of natural collaboration emerges out of really being seen and appreciated for the roles we play.
People who are connected to each other through their roles view work much more personally than they do in a process view. This is about them, not their processes. This is about them and their relationships. They can now work across silos, whether corporate silos, national silos or regional silos.
We can’t make people trust each other. What we can negotiate and deliver are the trusted behaviors and relationships that people are looking for. That’s about sharing information and business contacts, and delivering the transparency of sales activity. Value networks can do that.
Hunter Hastings is chairman of EMM Group, a global growth consultancy, and chief marketing officer at JBS USA, the North American arm of JBS, a multiprotein producer and brand owner of processed beef. Reach Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeff Saperstein is an author, teacher and consultant on marketing to increase growth. Reach Jeff at email@example.com. Hastings and Saperstein are co-authors of “Bust the Silos: Opening Your Organization for Growth.”