One morning a colleague of mine asked me for an advice. He was stuck in a project where his client was urged by corporate to downsize his business unit (mainly IT support to all other departments) and outsource non-essential activities. This client was unable to define his non-essential activities and my colleague found no compelling way to discriminate essentials from non-essentials nor any good way to lead the project to desired outcome.
Discussing the case, he invited me to the next executive seminar to clear the fundamental questions only the client can answer:
- What is the purpose of the business unit?
- What is the Goal / vision once downsizing is done?
I had of course Goal Tree in mind and was pretty sure that once the Goal defined, all other questions would find their answers logically and relatively easily.
Well, this is what I thought and how it was planned to happen.
What I did not expect was the inability of the boss to define the purpose of his unit. When trying to help their boss, every one of his subordinates had a different idea and understanding about the purpose of their unit.
The newest guy in the organization testified that he was uneasy not to understand the purpose of the unit he joined and his incapacity to align his team’s contributions as nobody really knows what to contribute to!
While moderating the debate I felt like living the story Bill Dettmer used to illustrate the importance of the Goal statement in his paper “Our goal…What is our goal?”
As the debate led nowhere, the participants obviously not ready to go further in the Goal Tree building, I stopped it with a warning: “how are you going to define what to outsource if you’re unable to state your Goal? Furthermore, if you can’t sell your ambition and plan for the future, corporate will make the decisions for you.”
What does this story tell us?
Many support functions are believed to be necessary simply because support is required. This may be true but does not imply these support functions must be located in the company or part of the organization. In tough times, when corporate screens the organization in search for cost cuttings, those departments that cannot demonstrate their value may be downsized or outsourced.
When support functions have a clear vision about their purpose and an ambition (a Goal), they can add value beyond just responding to other departments’ demands.
The Goal Tree is therefore a nice tool to state the Goal, make very clear what are the top objectives (Critical Success Factors) and all underlying Necessary Conditions. Once this done, the Goal Tree is useful to communicate towards the team what to contribute to and to corporate what value is created.
This post is part of the Goal Tree chronicles series