Why do organizations exist? To solve problems. For-profit, non-profit, K-12, higher-ed and government entities all exist to address opportunities, wants and needs (i.e. problems) with their products, programs and services.
Interestingly, while solving the world’s problems, they themselves are riddled with internal organizational problems.
In my experience, organizational problems are a result of issues with data, decisions and / or relationships. Too simple? Possibly, but hear me out.
How often do we really fix the true root cause of an organizational problem? Regardless of the answer it’s fair to say that all organizations have problems and will continue to have problems as long as they remain going concerns. (Side note: Thank you, organizations, for providing us consultants with a never-ending stream of work.)
My observation has been that examining and addressing pain points in the data, decisions and relationships associated with the problem leads to the fastest path to resolution. For example, let’s assume the problem is declining sales.
First, what types of data do we need and have related to sales that would indicate sales are declining? Is the data accessible? Meaning the ease and speed with which we can access the data is acceptable. Is the data complete? Meaning the available data is comprehensive. Is the quality of the data high? Meaning the data is relevant and timely. Is the data impactful? Meaning it’s important to the problem at hand. Finally, how reportable is the data? Meaning it’s easy to get data into a usable format.
We start by determining which decisions influence sales. How efficient are those decisions? Meaning the speed with which decisions can be made. How informed are the decisions? Meaning the decisions can be made with all necessary inputs. Is the quality of the decisions high? Meaning the decisions being made are the correct decisions, historically. Finally, are the decisions impactful? Meaning the decisions made are important to this particular problem.
Here we identify all relationships involved in the sales process. How complete are those relationships? Meaning the necessary relationships actually exist. What is the strength of the relationships? Meaning the relationships are positive. What is the value of each relationship? Meaning the significance and relevance of the relationship. Finally, what is the impact of each relationship? Meaning the influence each relationship has on sales.
There may be more or better questions for each of these categories, but I have yet to run across an organizational problem that can’t be attributed to a deficiency in data, decisions and / or relationships.