Worklife and Workplace Issues Fall Between the Organizational Cracks
Workplace issues touch many functions of the organization causing the responsibility for addressing them to be widely dispersed. For example:
As the nature of work and job requirements continually change, people adapt their processes and work styles as best they can to the physical environment they have inherited. The conditions of a place are often accepted as a given and ignored in the rush of activity. This makes it all the more difficult to advocate for the need to do better because people seem to be coping. What is key are the productivity improvements that could result if policies, practices, and physical spaces weren’t continually imposing limits and being “worked around.” Workplace needs to be an enabler rather than an inhibitor of job performance.
Everyone concerned with the organization’s viability and effectiveness should be play a role in the quality of the workplace. But workplace issues are system-wide and no single function or position has the mandate to address them as a whole. Potential solutions, critical to organizational success, are falling through the cracks.
Our Solution: Cross-functional Dialogue
nature of the problem also suggests a
solutions: integrate managers across functions. The
very nature of organizational systems disperses and
managers of different business lines and functions from one
They continually juggle the demands of the
organizational leaders with the needs and expectations of their
This leaves them with very little time,
energy or inclination to develop their own strategic thinking and to
with their peers across functional boundaries to accomplish more than
could do alone. These managers see
different parts of the “elephant” without any of them seeing the
This is called “middle dispersion”1 [see
The problem managers face in getting together around workplace issues are complicated by the fact that their superiors are usually unaware of the forces separating them and, therefore, they don’t see the need to drive integrative processes.
We propose a series of conversations to bring the right people from business units and functions together to:
These conversations maximize the learning that comes from dispersion by creating a setting for integration. [See figure 2]
The Process: Implementing Solutions
A high performance, cross-functional team will be carefully selected to tackle worklife and workplace challenges in the organization. Cross functional integration depends on mid-level managers and individual contributors working well together. Senior leaders begin the conversation and energize it at various points by making important decisions and allocating resources, but it's the directors and managers who have to reach out of their functional silos to each other to share information, test ideas, report on result, and offer a different perspective.
Through a series of conversations, the team will:
No matter how good an initial set of ideas might be, conditions are constantly changing. An organization’s strategy must stay current by monitoring actions in light of inevitable dynamic evolution. New technologies, for example, will affect the status quo and sometimes make it obsolete. Competitor actions and reactions will create the need for continuous assessment.
We establish a conversation between organizational decision-makers and opinion leaders that will build upon initial actions. Once the dialog has been convened, we will establish a forum and a process to anticipate change, prepare appropriate responses, and to be able to implement effective solutions in a timely, effective manner. We can train in-house staff to facilitate this conversation.
The Value Proposition: What Art of the Future Brings to the Party
between art and business results.
Learn about the changing nature of work and the work environment.
Read an article about Workplace strategy: what it is and why should care.
Middle Dispersion / Integration is based on the thinking of