Information access and flow LO11481

Julie Beedon (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 09:50:52

Replying to LO11448 --

I was interested in Rol's description of his experiment ...

>We recently concluded an experiment -- we did not intend it to be one, but
>it was -- in which we set up 28 independent, cross-functional teams with
>instructions to 'manage their businesses.' Starting with one common
>business process and system, within weeks we had 28 different way of
>managing the businesses, and the second season around saw an additional 24
>(new) ways. What we had was lots of creativity (one of the criteria),
>sort of average decisions (everyone was focused on new processes), and
>inefficient fuctioning. We had lost standards for measurement, we had
>lost ability to compare, we had lost any best practices, and despite the
>freedom, the teams were not sharing and developing any newer or better
>methodologies. They were not communicating with each other. In
>retrospect, everyone can chuckle about it, but it was not fun at the time.

A few of us (Fran I know is on this list and I think Becky is sometimes
lurking) worked on a project last year - a large organisational
transformation using real time strategic change (web page nearly ready I
believe) It was a continuing challenge to maintain flows of information
and communication and keep what was a complex transformation hanging
together as a system. A few of the things which happened:

* the intial set of actions (identified at a whole system
meeting of 1000 people) were mapped for connections,
instead of linearly planning against each one, and a set of
six interconnected projects created
* resources needed, internal and external were identified
(they were doing some highly innovative work in short
timescales and wanted to leverage external expertise)
* the external resources had an 'alignment'session with the
project 'leaders'
* all the projects were 'kicked off' as a whole system and
the participants mapped out some of the connections and
engaged with questions about interdependencies in the work
* the teams decided to employ some 'robust fostering' of
new ways of doing business around information access and
flow - because they identified some underlying
contradictions in how they wanted to work and how they
normally worked
* one of these 'temporary' processes included a daily
update/news report which was pinned up in a corridoor as a
temporary information area (so the teams and anyone who was
interested in following the progress of the action
identified at the 1000 person session could keep track)
* they also decided to set up a 'council' of all the
leaders with the task/responsibility of holding the whole
together as a system - in the event anyone who was around
attended council meetings... (if they wanted to)
* all the projects worked with inclusion as an imperative
(they had a real sense of being commissioned by the whole
organisation and wanted to keep aligned) and as a result
they had open days and designed processes which were highly
participative at every stage)

It seemed to us, as we reviewed our learnings, that the temporary
processes had been important - interesting that although the daily news
was not completed after a few weeks by then the flows of information were
happening in real time naturally. It was also interesting to see the work
on the individual processes come together as a system ... It was not
perfect - there were lots of frustration but I think we all learned some
valuable lessons about this sort of process improvment work and how to
ensure that it works as a system.

Julie Beedon
VISTA Consulting - for a better future


Julie Beedon <>

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