Amazing how many questions/issues come up around organizational design. Are there systems we can use - and not the typical HR Operational stuff!  We need short term, simple, clear, structured yet agile systems for project type environments. The HR system must ensure the right people are in place at the right time - for the right work activities to be completed - With Success!

This is where we can leverage Requisite Organization (RO) theories, or Global Organizational Design methodologies and tools.  A guru in this areas was Elliott Jaques and now his work has continued to grow exponentially, gain momentum, clarity and validation by many greats like Ken Shepard and Don Fowke. These systems are actively followed by 100s of companies (small to big) in all industry and all environments.

Don Fowke helped me understand what is Requisite Organization, by explaining:  "There is a small number of very important constructs that help design and manage organizations by building trust and delivering effectiveness".

Two key principles that I have taken away from RO include:
1) people can be split into levels of capability (and hence their qualifications to do the work at hand)
2) work can be split into levels of longevity, complexity and uniqueness.

Note: It is important to not slot a person into one level and be black and white about it.  It is important to understand that the person is at that level, for that current time period for that current type of work.

If everyone understands these two principles, then basically next steps should be easy. All you need to do is align the people level with the work level and voila...... that simple!

Easier said than done, since it is common practice to put people into jobs or work levels that are:
  • too easy (get bored),
  • too difficult (get stressed),
  • politically influenced,
  • without a plan (hurry up and fill the spot, take who ever is available).

Also, don't forget when the business is just short on the right people, or the business is doing the wrong type of work (outside their sweet spot).

Thus, this results in high stress, anxiety, conflict, and then poor trust, performance and lack of efficiency & effectiveness.  This is especially evident in a project environment.

To further understand this, an RO Consultant once shared a matrix with me. This is not to be taken in stone but it gives an idea how the general population fits within the levels of RO. 

Before looking at the matrix, take a quick quiz.   If I said there are 7 levels of capability that the human population fits into - where do you put yourself?

Level 0 is where you are not capable to perform work, you need help to be managed and hand held, and still you would likely not accomplish the work.  Level 7 is where you are a super CEO that can run multinational companies quite easily. Where do you fit???

Level:   0     -     1     -     2     -     3     -     4     -     5     -     6     -    7

Most of  us put ourselves in the top half (4 or greater) - we all take pride in ourselves (which is a very good thing!). This is the beauty of human nature, we are generally positive and optimistic and strive to grow and feel that the work we do produces huge amounts of value.

However, in the project/business world we are drastically constrained with money, time, equipment, material, etc.   If mistakes are made, there are consequences.  Worst case if a project fails, the company shuts down and people are sent home - there is no more money to pay a salary so hence no one wants to stay and work for free. So thus, personal vs paid project work needs a different level of disciplined approach - to ensure we have people classified in the correct level and then link them with the correct level of work complexity to ensure we have less "big" mistakes.

RO further alludes to that the vast majority of work completed in business or projects is not that complex and thus people at lower levels can deliver it. If someone tells you what to do, or you were trained in detail as to what to do and how to do it, then they also check up on you (manage you); then you are doing a lot of work and likely working very hard, but the level that you are working at is very low in terms of RO.

Lets take a look at an example matrix that classifies the majority of people in terms of levels:

Level  -  % of Population
7        -      0.5
6        -      0.5
5        -      0.5
4        -      0.5
3        -     7
2        -     41
1        -     40
0        -     10

The groupings of these levels show how the vast majority of people are in the bottom part - and truthfully, I am still surprised with these results. We were always taught by our parents, teachers, coaches, etc.  that we can do anything if we set our mind to it.  All of us are equal and all of us are all-stars!  We are born with the world in front of us and we carve our own destiny, anyone can be president, anyone can be an astronaut, anyone can be a star athlete or CEO business owner.  Mister Rogers preached this and we ran with it.

However, RO and the hundreds of companies that follow this state this is not the case.

So what can you take away from this...... I personally continue to study this and the key thing I take away............. is to have awareness and help others see the same awareness.

As always, people are the key reason for success or failure in projects and business.  To deliver the work, you must manage people.  However, people need to be in roles that they can excel within. Once you have awareness of the work/people alignment, you can better manage the risks - since it will never be perfect. 

AND remind everyone that is involved, this is not personal.  This is trying to set up a systematic approach whereby we can increase the probability of success for that task, at that time and with that set of resources!

PS:  if you want to know about RO, or how people are classified or how work is classified, be sure to visit the website below, or stay tuned and I will be doing a future post on both of these topics.