You’ll quickly see in the individual questions the focus on cross-company alignment
- different parts of the organization share common perspectives
- easy to coordinate projects across the organization
- people in other parts of the organization share the same goals
In our first blog post about this quadrant, we spoke of levers and fulcrums. This is the lever. Different parts of the organization share the same goals but require different resources and move at different rates.
There is also a question in this section about alignment across levels of the organization. Sometimes it’s a lack of understanding or different understanding at different levels of the organization rather than across the organization.
Sometimes when I would be working in one part of the organization I could see that they understood this principle. They would invite people from other departments to be a part of their team just to make sure they were completely coordinated and integrated.
But, when I was working up the organization a level or two, they were often oblivious to the efforts being made below them.
Horizontal and Vertical
Coordination and Integration must work both ways to be effective. Across the organization in a horizontal effort as well as up and down the organization vertically to be effective. It must be complete coordination and integration.
In mechanical systems such as your car or other pieces of machinery, a great deal of research goes into reducing friction. Friction creates heat. Heat is lost energy.
Being completely frictionless in either the mechanical or corporate world is impossible. You’ll never eliminate all of the friction. But you can reduce it as much as possible.
I grew up in the era of muscle cars. We often talked about someone who “blueprinted” their large V-8’s in order to make them more powerful. they were reducing friction by milling the various parts to tighter and more precise tolerances. Less friction, more power.
Corporations are artificial structures that have been created to bring a great number of people together to tackle large projects. There will always be friction! If there is not an efficient design, touch-points between parts of the organization are rough and ill-defined. They’ll create friction. When there is too much friction, people will feel that it takes too much effort to work with other parts of the organization. Sometimes they’ll just not exert the energy it takes to work through the issues thereby focusing on their own needs rather than the needs of the company as a whole. Other times they’ll duplicate what they need within their own boundaries thereby spending more money on duplicate resources. For example, did you know that 65 agencies that have their own police force within the Federal Government? Why? It’s likely easier to create their own force rather than coordinate across department lines. That’s a lot of heat.
Sources of Heat
If you’re getting low scores on this portion of the culture survey, look for the heat. Heat can exhibit itself in the form of
- burn out
- long wait times for approval or response
- just taking too long to get anything done
If your coordination and integration is in good shape, you’ve minimized the heat-causing friction.