Don’t Get Boxed In. Get Results Out.

Author: Cherie Wilkins

I was asked recently by a client whose Performance Improvement department was about to undergo some restructuring, if I had any advice on how it should be structured. I did…we do… most of which has already been captured in several of our papers and books. (See our BPTrends article entitled Location, Location, Location: Does It Matter Where Your Performance Improvement Department Reports?”). This particular department had undergone several reorganizations in the past few years as the greater enterprise struggled to understand their mission, and therefore, where to put them. We have seen this trend at more than one of our clients.

The one piece of advice that I should have given was this: Get results, and quickly! For any improvement department, the most critical element is delivering improvement results to the business. If you are not doing that, then structure is irrelevant. If the business is struggling with questions like where your improvement department should report, or how many levels of management in the department they can collapse, or how to divide the work among the various job titles remaining, you may not be sending the business the right messages, i.e. not delivering meaningful business improvement results.

Internally focused metrics for these departments such as number of projects completed, number of consultants getting certification, and even projects on time and budget, are meaningless unless they are also delivering measureable business improvement. If a department is consistently delivering meaningful business impacts to their clients, concerns about structure and placement tend to disappear and other concerns are heard from the business, such as “How can we get more of your services?” or “What could you do if we gave you additional resources?”

In addition, it is best for these departments not to get too caught up in “navel-gazing”, although we have also seen this tendency and have even fallen victim ourselves. Best to put the resources to work getting results for clients first and work on fixing up our own department structures later. Not delivering results will surely result in the department’s boxes on the organization chart disappearing altogether.