It seems that the standard protocol. and first step, for improving business performance is to change the organization structure.  It is visible, it is easily quantifiable, and it yields immediate results.  Consultants come in, analyze job responsibilities for redundancies, propose structural changes. reduce the size of the workforce and the associated cost-base, and justify their huge fees.  People often think that bringing in a big name consulting firm to make these changes will distance them from the results should there be any “bumps in the road.”  Not the case folks!  You are still on the line.

Any structure can work!  It is the processes used within that structure that determine the effectiveness of your operation. 

Structural change!  It seems like the panacea for all organizational problems…until the business tries to operate.  While it is true that heavy and costly organizational structure and inefficiency is inevitably one element of the problem, it is generally a symptom, not the cause.

Where many of these consultants fall short is in clearly defining the processes under which the new organization will work.  They give you a new structure, and you have to determine how to make it work.  You have to design new processes, revamp systems to support the new processes, and train the employees how to use them.

It is safe approach for them to take because any structure can work.  It is the processes used within that structure that determine the degree of improvement in the operation…and they have left that for you to figure out.  Any failure to do so is yours.

In my opinion, they put the cart before the horse.  The correct approach is to evaluate your key processes, systematically improve those processes to eliminate waste and improve quality, and then build the structure to support those processes.

The more important lesson is that you should be doing this routinely as a course of business so that you do not find yourself in the position of having to bring in those consultants.  A good Six Sigma or Lean Sigma approach shows you just how to do this.  The book by Peter Pande, Six Sigma Leadership, gives you a good overview of your role as a leader in making this happen.  It is a short, to the point, and clear step-by-step approach to systematic improvement.

To get you started on which processes to evaluate first, be sure you are getting the right information about the health of your organization.  Build a good set of metrics for each of your key processes and monitor them closely.  It is like looking at a patients chart in the hospital…you can easily keep track of all vital systems and how they are operating.