Corporate America often creates it’s own problems. If you see something that could be improved, but it’s beyond the scope of your department, you’re often considered meddlesome. If you’re motives are pure, you have a leadership position and you’re told to mind your own business, that’s a clear sign that you work for someone that doesn’t “get it”. I’m not sure it was ever satisfactory to operate in silo’s but, if it was, those days are certainly over.
Of course, impure motives of those that have led before us have made everybody suspicious any time you reach beyond your area of responsibility. However, interaction is required between departments. Someone’s output is someone else’s input. Why shouldn’t that interaction be discussed and optimized such that the overall performance of the organization is made more efficient? You’ll have to earn the trust of your peers because you’ll only be able to make lean progress if everybody has the guard down and they are sold on the idea of maximizing the performance of the enterprise, even if it means their metrics suffer.
An example of not subordinating a functional group’s metrics to those of the greater organization is a Purchasing department that is rated on piece price savings instead of total cost of ownership or, at least, best landed cost. They could select a supplier in China that would save them $0.05 but pay an inbound freight price of $0.27 instead of awarding it to a local supplier without the nickel savings but with an inbound freight cost of $0.07. So, the Purchasing metrics might look good, but the enterprise is paying $0.15 more than they should.
Not all top-level leaders can sense danger. They also aren’t often in the minutiae of each transaction in the organization that produces the output. Some are just not cut out to run a company. As leaders of a functional team in a cross functional organization, it is your responsibility to constantly strive to improve efficiency and eliminate waste. Is your team doing what they do because it’s what they’ve always done or because you have an acute understanding of the inputs and outputs of your department and you have prescribed the most effective process for executing the duties of your team? If you’re working with stale practices, look for best practices. If you’ve given best practices a try, you should be considering “next practices”.
Of course, such behavior could maximize the output of the enterprise and eliminate waste and what fun would that be? I would apologize to consultants and turnaround specialists for letting the cat out of the bag if I didn’t firmly believe that they have nothing to worry about. Corporate myopia over the next financial period will always guide the majority of leaders instead of the passion to actually fix their enterprise for the long term. As long as the C-level continues to be rewarded for short-term blood from a rock as their primary priority, consultants and turnaround specialists have nothing to worry about.
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