Structure Determines Performance

You are designed individually and organizationally for the performance you are getting. Structure determines performance.

Mastering Leadership, Anderson and Adams 2016

What if you could only focus on one thing each day, the same thing for a month or a whole year?  What would it be?   What would it not be? I work with a number of mid-market growth organizations and while the desire to just do one thing really well is strong for some, it feels impossible amidst the many balls most of my clients are juggling and the long list of initiatives that they “must” do.  Last week, I was out west working with a long-term client and partner and we took the opportunity to celebrate some great new sales wins. Several well-known brands have signed on as clients and more are lined up to land in the next quarter. I heard from every department head that the new sales growth is putting pressure on the business as the team continues to exceed their sales goals. It’s a really good place for this group to be. As I absorbed this feedback I reflected that 18 months ago and certainly 4 years ago, this organization was not experiencing a consistent, steady flow of new sales, despite having almost an identical team running the sales function throughout that time, so I wondered what had changed? When I posed that question and asked what they were doing right, his answer was simple: all I do is sell.

That led to a few more questions, what was he not doing? No technology, no focusing on operations despite the temptation with all these new clients, just sales. As the organization reached a new milestone last year they did what we used to call in my past life at ACS, divide and conquer. When a business unit had the potential for great growth, we would select a highly capable leader out of their current function and instead of giving them more, a bigger role, we would put them in charge of a smaller business unit that had great potential for growth. 9 times out of 10, it worked.  For this group the change did not require taking a person out of another business unit, it did require reducing the number of areas this leader owned freeing him up to drive the area that holds the greatest impact for the business, sales.

This contrasts strongly to a group I have just started to talk with elsewhere in the US. This operationally driven organization is short one key person – they don’t have an operational leader. Their owner is a visionary, brilliant and creative and he is neither good at nor is he energized dealing with the day to day of the business. For that reason, right now they have no true operational owner and the results show it. At best, they are operationally mediocre.

With this in mind, that structure determines performance, what do your results tell you YOUR organization is designed for right now? As we reach the halfway point of 2017, what do you want your organization to be designed to achieve for the remainder of the year?


Previously posted on Linkedin