Organize around outcomes, not tasks

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I was reading Strategy, process, content and context (Bob and Ron) and found this interesting.

‘Organize around outcomes, not tasks’

The principle says to have one person perform all the steps in a process by designing that person’s job around an objective or outcome instead of a single task. The redesign at Mutual Benefits Life, where individual case managers perform the entire application approval process, is the quintessential example of this. I completely support this because of many reasons and I hope others will also agree with me.

The redesign of an electronics company is another example. It had separate organizations performing each of the five steps between selling and installing the equipment. One group determined customer requirements, another translated those requirements into internal product codes, a third conveyed that information to various plants and warehouses, a fourth received and assembled the components, and fifth delivered and installed the equipment. The process was based on the centuries-old notion of specialized labor and on the limitations inherent in paper files. The departments each processed a specific set of skills, and only one department at a time could do its work.

The customer order moved systematically from step to step. But this sequential processing caused problems. The people getting the information from the customer in step one had to get all the data anyone would need throughout the process, even if it wasn’t needed until step five. In addition, the many hand-offs were responsible were responsible for numerous errors and misunderstandings. Finally, any question about the customer requirements that arose late in the process had to be referred back to the people doing step one, resulting in delay and rework.

When company re engineered, it eliminated the assembly line approach. It compressed responsibility for the various steps and assigned it to one person, the ‘customer service representative.’ The person now oversees the whole process – talking the order, translate the ordering it into product codes, getting the components installed. The customer service rep expedite and coordinates the process, much like a general contractor. And the customer has just one contract, who always knows the status of the order.