energizing breakthrough performance

The Drive-By Reorganization

Author: ; Published: May 14, 2015; Category: Leadership, Uncategorized; Tags: ; No Comments»

As the company grew and changed, the need for reorganization became abundantly clear.  The CEO called an all-hands meeting and talked about the need for change and how the firm had outgrown its start-up structure.  He talked about how growth, new opportunities, and new competitors prompted him to decide upon a new structure. He drew several circles on a flipchart and conceptualized how these circles would work together to improve the state of the art and customer satisfaction.  He then asked the assembled employees if they had any questions or comments.  There were none.  He turned to his CFO and Chief Counsel and said, “You see, no questions. It makes sense and everyone understands it.”


The reorganization was clear to the CEO in his head – so clear that he didn’t expect that staff would have any questions. The problem was that staff actually found the concept so unclear that they were unable or perhaps too frightened to formulate questions about the new structure, how it will work and what it meant for them as individuals. To them, the CEO had driven the reorganization concept by way too quickly, spraying concepts and other utterances that may have hit a target or two but, like many drive-bys, it was more sound than fury, more smoke than fire.  However, the Drive-By Reorganization did have its casualties.


Negative impacts for the organization? The Drive-By confused and destabilized organizational roles and relationships which have evolved in the “previous” organization. For the individual staff member, there was sudden uncertainty about his or her role in the organization, with concomitant losses of motivation and productivity. Meanwhile, the CEO was seen as being “out of touch” with organizational reality, i.e., mildly delusional.


There’s a right way to reorganize which is methodical, not magical, involving seven steps:


1.         Design, which goes well beyond boxes, circles, and connective lines

2.         Implementation planning

3.         Training to acquaint staff with behavioral changes occasioned by the reorg

4.         Facilitation to clarify roles and responsibilities

5.         Coaching for some to get past the old to thrive in the new

6.         Enforcement particularly with passive-aggressive types who are waiting and hoping for failure so that they can return to what was familiar and convenient

7.         Evaluation, followed by design adjustments and corrective actions

Indeed, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. Hope is not a strategy.  A reorganization which “takes” and endures, requires the employment of a methodical approach.  Absent such due diligence, the danger of chronic and countless reorganizations will be realized. 


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