The F-scan is an efficient and proven method to implement plans for change and improvement.
Good models and good managers are important conditions for an effective organisation. That does not necessarily mean that they are free of pitfalls, however. Comments such as "We've been doing things like this for years" and "Doing it like this just works" indicate that it might be time to have a good look at your organisation and ask yourself if it is still effective.
What is effective?
Doing the right things is often used to describe the term 'effective', while doing things well is often used as the definition of the word 'efficiency'. One cannot be separated from the other, however. Doing the right things well is the key to a successful organisation. Based on our many years of experience we know that, the key often lies in the organisation itself.
We have learned through our improvement and change projects, that not achieving an optimal performance can be attributed to:
- the lack of clear organisational goals
- the lack of quick decision-making
- discovering errors or gaps in operational management too late
- spending time on things that are useless or unfeasible
- the lack of clear responsibilities
- involving too many employees in a project
- too much talking and too little doing
- not knowing what happens in the organisation, not being able to find the right contact
- not prioritising ideas clearly
- not knowing what does NOT need to be done (or no longer needs to be done)
- not having enough time to generate new ideas
A method that is commonly employed to determine how things stand in the organisation is to consult the management. But often these managers are too much a part of the organisation, as a result of which it is not possible to gain a clear picture of the organisation's underperformance. Based on our experience, primarily gained in managerial (interim) roles, it has become clear to us that the most important organisational improvement can often be identified by walking around in the organisation and talking to the people 'on the shop floor'. When doing this, we frequently hear statements such as: 'I've said this so many times already', 'If they submitted this tape just quarter of an hour earlier, we could save 4 hours of editing', 'I also don't understand why I'm filling in this list, as I've just done it there already', 'We've talked about it now and again, but I've never heard any more about it'.
These experiences were the input for a model that we have developed. It is based on the following principle: When you talk to staff as well as management of the different departments, it is possible to determine very quickly how effective the processes are in each of these departments. Example questions to find out more could be:
- Can you describe the goals of this organisation in 3 sentences?
- Imagine that you have noticed that something is not running smoothly in your organisation. Would you report it? What would be done about it if you did?
- Do you feel that what you do now is more or less the same as what you have always done?
- Do you ever have the feeling that you are doing things that do not contribute or contribute very little to the end result?
- Do you have the feeling that things are done twice?
- Is it clear what the priorities are in this department?
- To what extent do you feel that too many people are involved in decision-making or implementing activities?
- Is it clear what you, as a department, can decide about and what not?
- Do you know who makes the ultimate decisions about matters concerning your department?
- During the the past year, how often have you worked on things and not found out what has happened to them?
The questions above are asked ,as much as possible, in the form of scale questions (10 = excellent, 1 = poor). This enables results from departments to be compared with each other and with the same departments of comparable companies.
It is essential to determine who to speak to in the department. In consultation with the management, we discuss who the people are 'who really know what's going on'. This by no means have to be the high potentials. Often it is the people who are able to observe keenly, but do not express their insights directly. These are often also the people to whom colleagues naturally turn when they want to know something about the organisation. We call these people 'experts'. In most cases the client is able to name these people or name somebody who knows who they are. After speaking to these experts, we talk to the management of the department. In the discussion with the departmental management, their relationship with the senior management is also discussed along the same lines. All these findings will be presented to the client in a final report.
The document that is ultimately delivered offers the client the opportunity to enter into a more direct dialogue with its middle management.
The follow-up processes based on the discussion can vary greatly. The discussion leads to a better understanding and better control. It may result in coaching or training in order to support the management or employees. Another outcome may be adjustments to the organisation. In some cases, the scan forms the prelude to a change process, in which case a change team is formed.
The analysis is not an inquisition; the main aim is to improve the organisation in a sustained way, based on knowledge within the organisation itself. It also offers senior management the opportunity to talk to their middle management in a structured manner. Evaluations over time are an important means of finding out whether the measures taken have been effective.
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