None of us would like to be known as “lumbering”. It is derogatory. But whether we are or are not depends on the frame of reference. And before we start sprinting to avoid being called lumbering, we do well to select the reference most suited to our needs. You can think of this post as an exercise in reference selection. Here goes!
Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi think your big company should re-organize. Here is the core idea
functional priorities are all too often in conflict with — or not fully supportive of — the strategic needs of the business.
Right. So, the HR department or the legal department and the marketing department operating as permanent unites don’t contribute enough to meet strategic needs. The answer? Leinwand and Mainardi think that permanent cross functional teams organized around those needs work better. Sounds great — if you have identified those needs. And that is the strategic nub of the matter - identifying those well defined needs is the first step in winning the day.
So how does the well intentioned CEO develop “well defined needs”? Step one - understand that these are not given - they are not things that you pull off the shelf. Step two - perceptions of needs become more clear when you start asking strategic questions. Step three - one answers strategic questions with hypothesis that can be tested via information flow (business model). That means you need data flow organized around your business model. That means you need ways to generate data - lots of them. And good ones too.
So, sure, build cross functional teams. After you do a bit of work (the above strategic steps are from Dudik).
It is much easier to justify - to an investment committee or a board - fixed assets that maximize the efficiency with which the task at hand gets done (than to) argue for flexibility, when you, the strategist, can’t specify in advance how that flexibility will be used.
Hmmm …. an example? Like the Hiroshima Mazda plant built back in 1992 that was incredibly efficient … in making cars that consumers wanted years ago. By 1996 it was operating at only 35% capacity. And it went down from there. Oops. So we need more flexible assets, right? And the most flexible asset of all? Dudik thinks it is the human being. Shock!