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Organizational efficiency

The background

A major logistics service provider had decided to reorganize the company but the new structure broke with its historically informal organization. This resulted in a loss of efficiency, which only became worse when the company attempted to force through the new structures at the expense of the old, informal ones.

Metaplan’s assignment

The heads of logistics and personnel commissioned Metaplan to help the new structure gain traction and improve efficiency.

Our approach

At the beginning of the project, we analyzed the assumption underlying the reorganization. It was based on the notion that managing an organization is a purely technical process, and that employees only ever carry out orders that management hands down. The importance of the operative implementation of planning had been underestimated. The questions we posed swept aside the misleading idea that success could be achieved simply by explaining the new organization better. The technical, planning-based approach had led management to assign tasks that couldn’t be accomplished and set goals that couldn’t be achieved. What’s more, the communication channels between Planning and Operations were unclear, and decision-making processes weren’t producing results. The consequences of the changes had not been sufficiently thought through.

In talks and workshops with the employees, we identified conflicts and created a climate in which they could be discussed. Working together with the employees, we used concrete examples of how tasks were assigned to address areas where the new organization had broken with the old, then reallocated responsibilities. We encountered aspects of the new organization that on the surface appeared to have been clarified, but were in fact based on false assumptions. In this way, we resolved matters for the players in these areas.

The results

By working with the executives as well as employees, included on a case-by-case basis, we supplemented the centralized planning strategy with a management- and implementation-based approach. While Planning continued to determine the framework and set goals, the operating units had a greater say in their implementation. Within mutually agreed limits, the operating units actually obtained the right to alter plans. This agreement restored employee potential to the benefit of the new organizational structure and its new processes.

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