Back to Basics in Leadership and Organization Development Create Learning Michael Cardus

People fear that as they become managerial-leaders the idea of ‘The Basics’ is something they should have already established. But you see time & time again these basics are horribly described & defined within the organizational structure. Without the basics everyone is lost in the weeds & the future is unseen beyond the next obstacle.

Working with a manufacturing leadership team. Sharing an overview of the ‘Mastering Organizational Complexity’ Consulting Process.  Moving along, head nods, smiles and just as I moved from the foundation of Time-Span & Organization Design – how current conditions of uncertainty are causing constriction (lessening the time goals need to be accomplished ).

The plant manager stopped me, “We have so many layers and titles. How do we decide if someone gets promoted? I know we use the 9 Box and I hate it.”  I stopped & stared at the ceiling then asked, “How do you define the level of work within each management layer? What is used to compare the current capacity of 1 person vs. the next? If I was to observe your promotion & performance appraisal process would I see it attract OR repel trust?”

 He stated –

“We need to go back to basics.”

The prepared agenda got tossed. The 10 Plant Managers & I spent 5 hours working to answer these 3 questions.

  1. Looking at each level of the company from CEO – Plant Manager, to Front Line staff what is the longest time-span goal that that person is expected to complete on-time, on-budget, on-quality? How long will it take to know if that person made a good decision.
  2. Looking at these time-spans – which are similar across departments? Meaning which have close time-spans for goal completion.
  3. Looking at the people we have in those role at the level are they “big enough” – are the people too close or too far apart to manage & add value to the work?

We included their Level of Management also… The most intense discussions happened when the managers had to share and gauge, based upon their own perception and that of their peers , their time-span and that of their role within the organization.

How is this basic?

Every person has the right to use their full capacity within their work. If this basic human need is not sufficed negative behaviors, politics, disengagement, victimhood & revenge or sabotage behavior is brought out of people. Organization Design – how the company  set up. From level of hierarchy to cross-functional team work to how promotions happen – Is the Basic Building Block of every company.


The 3 question above forced us to examine the system in place and understand why the current organization design was leading to poor results and disgruntled people.

This Basic element is the foundation of your company and how you operate day to day to accomplish your work. With pressure the foundational cracks become more apparent and enlarge. Leaving everyone to do the best they can while their work and capacity to improve the company is crumbling around them.

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