HENDRICKS & ASSOCIATES, INC. Management Consultants

Public Sector Clients

The Rightsizing Remedy

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Conceptual Organizational Model



Our conceptual model for an organization/productivity review is based on examining five interrelated organizational dimensions outlined in The Rightsizing Remedy. The "step-by-step approach to rightsizing" addresses the fact that organization and staffing is not a one-time change in only the size and form of the organization, but an ongoing balancing of many interrelated dimensions:

  • The external environment and the need for management to be continually alert and agile enough to react to a wide variety of external forces (e.g., funding, mandates, etc.).
  • The culture of the organization - particularly the degree of openness, trust, teamwork and loyalty - which focuses management and employees on quality and service goals.
  • The employees who make up any organization with particular emphasis on their knowledge, skills and ability to cross-train and move from one job to another as conditions change.
  • The processes of any organization (e.g., performance measurement systems, etc.) and the extent to which these processes empower or impede individual employees in responding to unforeseen events.
  • As well as, the organizational structure with special emphasis on the degree of autonomy managers have to reorganize and redeploy their staffs to meet changing conditions.

Simply moving boxes on an organization chart will not change behavior unless: (1) employees have the right skills, (2) the organization demonstrates the right values, (3) the right processes are in place to recognize and reward these behaviors, skills and values, and (4) all of these changes respond to the environment. In this regard, we believe it is important that they understand what the study should accomplish as well as what it should not accomplish.

1. The focus should be on "rightsizing" work and workload. Many organizational studies focus on how to justify cutting staff without "thinking through" how to eliminate the underlying conditions (e.g., number of reporting levels, spans of control, supervisory review requirements, work flows, job definitions, alignment of functions, balancing of workloads, clerical scheduling and deployment, the organization and latitude of work teams, the use of technology, performance measurement systems, the use of incentives, job evaluation systems, etc.) which also served to justify a larger staff in the first place. These fad "downsizings" are no different from a fad diet because the organization will soon swell-up to its previous size as soon as management pressure to stay "lean" is reduced.

2. The conceptual underpinnings of any review should be what will work best in your organization, not somewhere else. All too often, many organizations judge their performance on the basis of conventional industry standards (workload measures and staffing ratios). The problem is that these ratios may not take into consideration unique market characteristics and demographic factors. Even more serious, this type of "consensus thinking" stifles innovation where managers focus on administering a function (according to these standards) rather than managing it.

3. The study "viewpoint" should be from the "outside looking in" rather than the "inside looking out." Many organizations often become capacity-driven rather than demand-driven. The study should pose such fundamental questions as: Why do individual departments exist today? What technological, sociological, political, industry, and demographic factors will impact on the demand for services in the future? How well is each department's organization positioned to capitalize on these developments?

4. The study scope of inquiry should be sufficiently broad (i.e., holistic) questioning not only how staff work is carried out but also why it is done in the first place. Often the opportunities for the most substantial productivity improvement come about from changes in how work is generated in the first place, not in how it is subsequently performed. More than likely, individual department staff time is consumed by responding to various external (as well as internal) demands for service. It is important to understand the nature of these demands as well as assumptions about what constitutes "service" and service levels. In particular, does management focus on ensuring that employees are "doing the right things" or just "doing things right?