7 Steps to Assess the State of Your Organization

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” Peter Drucker

Most would agree that time is the scarcest resource in any company, and for leaders of rapidly growing or transforming organizations, this may be especially true. With the day-to-day operations, extreme pressure from stakeholders and fires being put out every day, you may think time for reflection is impossible.

How can you take the time for reflection as an individual, but even more so as an organization? This may sound too simplistic, but to truly be a high performing organization, leaders must make this a priority. If you are interested in conducting an assessment of your organization, click here for a free organizational assessment tool.

As Stephen Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Knowing your organization’s strengths and opportunities and where your organization is currently heading, your vision must be a priority in reaching your goals to perform at the highest level.

Leaders often think they know their organizations, but they are often only seeing it from one perspective, missing critical information about current strengths and opportunities

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A lesson in perspective: Are you on the right path?

Personally, I experienced ending up on the wrong path last summer while on an amazing journey to South Africa. Another woman and I were guided by a highly experienced Safari guide. We started out in Johannesburg and drove all the way through Kruger National Park—one of the largest game reserves in Africa.

We drove through the park from camp to camp over four days, seeing lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, buffalos, zebras, giraffe, and too many other species to count. On the third day, we left camp early in the morning, packed into our small car with a map, and set out to arrive at the next camp by 4:00 pm.

All was going well until about 3:00 pm, when we saw a sign that read, “Welcome to Letaba”—the camp we had left 6 hours ago.

As it turns out, we had ended up on the wrong road and ended up right back where we started that morning. We now had an entire day’s journey ahead to be made in a few hours. We risked being late and not let into camp.

Even our extremely experienced guide, who had traveled these roads numerous times, made an error in navigation, which resulted in us being a long, long distance from where we intended to be. Luckily, when we arrived after closing, our guide, who is a great sweet talker, convinced the guard to let us in.

This experience raised a key takeaway question: how many times in our lives as leaders do we think we are on one path, only to find out that a slight miscalculation has brought us somewhere completely different?

Is your organization on the right path?

Before undergoing an organizational assessment, my clients frequently experience a lack of perspective.

One organization I worked with espoused having a great learning culture, yet had gotten so busy putting out fires they had stopped all learning and development activities. The day-to-day pressure had slowly driven some behaviors that led the team to feel like risk-taking or making mistakes was not acceptable.

Although they claimed to have a learning culture, they in fact no longer did, without the leaders even knowing it, until we conducted an organizational assessment.

Using an Organizational Assessment Model

As with the safari, if organizations check where they are every so often, they can more quickly remedy it if they have gotten off the path they want to be on. The approach I recommend leverages the Galbraith Star Model.

The Star Model consists of five areas that should be connected and aligned to successfully shape the decisions and behaviors of organizations: Strategy, Structure, Processes, Rewards, and People. Typically, I also add Culture and Communication.

Assess the Current State of Your Organization

To assess the state of your business, ask these questions of your organization. These questions can be asked in interviews, surveys, or during a leadership meeting.

Strategy/Vision

  • Are all employees aware of the vision and strategy?

  • Does the vision/strategy pull people forward and project a clear image of a possible future?

  • Are the decisions, goals, objectives at all levels of the organization aligned with the strategy?

  • Are tradeoffs being made to ensure focus on the strategy?

Culture:

  • How would you describe the culture of the organization?

  • What are examples of how the culture is demonstrated (actions, behaviors, etc.)?

Structure

  • Does the current structure support or hinder the strategy?

  • What changes in the structure might improve the effectiveness of the organization?

  • What are the most common points of friction between areas? Where are the bottlenecks? Are there redundancies?

Process:

  • What is supporting or hindering collaboration across the organization?

  • What changes in processes might improve the effectiveness of the organization?

  • What additional tools and resources are needed (e.g. technology, systems, information, people) to achieve the organization’s goals?

Communication

  • What is working well with communication?

  • What are the barriers to communication in the organization (up/down and horizontally)?

Rewards

  • Are goals of employees aligned with organizational goals?

  • Are rewards congruent with structure and processes to influence strategic direction?

People

  • What talent/capabilities do we need (or not need) to implement the company’s chosen direction?

  • Are there actions needed to ensure we have the leadership needed to execute on the vision and strategy?

click here for a free organizational assessment tool.Once these questions are asked and responses analyzed, the leadership team should come together and priorities and create action plans to address the most critical items.

In our next post, we’ll cover how to create an action plan following an organizational assessment.

Blog Series Simple Steps for Organizational Success

  • Part 1: How did your organization start and where is it going?

  • Part 2: Create a clear vision for your organization

  • Part 3: Assess the current state of your organization: The Galbraith Star Model

  • Part 4: Create an action plan for your organization

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