How Big Organizations Solve Big Problems

HP1

The other day I was comparing notes with my friend Hal Miller who recently left Verizon for greener pastures and he was describing how the company makes all the decisions for the sales teams. They move individuals around to different managers and assign customers to salespeople randomly, and it reminded me of two things.

One is the way very large organizations who survive over the years develop systemic problems. You’ve no doubt heard about the Veterans Administration or other government institutions who have problems getting much right, and the other is how HP handled that problem so it never became a systemic crisis.

Interestingly enough, change is the key, but random changes that interfere with a team’s chemistry is not a good way to go. At Hewlett-Packard, everyone has to change their position on the floor where they work. AbouHP1t every three years or so, we would be reorganized, but all we did was take everything we had and move as little as 3 feet north and 3 feet west. Lots of people were involved in making these move changes, and I noticed it did break up the monotony of our work. A big/little change like this is less disruptive to team chemistry, but it has the desired effect.

Extra large organizations try to fix problems through reorganization as well as change management. Too many of the policy changes forced on employees are tiresome, bothersome and don’t achieve the desired results. Moving departments from one office building to another can make enough of a change to get the employees engaged again. We all have management changes that happen because people are promoted or lost through attrition. That’s the only time we should have to adjust to a new manager. When we move to a new group or are promoted, we often find ourselves reporting to a new manager and that’s fine, and the way the system is supposed to work.

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