Volumes have been written over decades about organizational effectiveness and the quality of their output. This paper emphasizes a key principle that helps explain why many organizational effectiveness improvement initiatives fail: obtaining the most accurate picture of organizational effectiveness requires analyzing static and dynamic elements. Static elements describe things that don’t change much over time, such as facilities, equipment, and organizational charts. Dynamic elements describe things that are constantly changing, such as people’s behaviors, communications and work processes. To really understand and improve a company’s performance, we need to analyze both static and dynamic elements simultaneously.
Companies can be considered collections of facilities, technologies, and people organized for a specific output. Within those companies are organizations, the groups that produce goods and services. Unless one lives completely “off the grid,” all our lives are touched by multiple organizations that manufacture the goods we consume or provide essential services. Organizational effectiveness reviews and improvement initiatives constantly evaluate how these companies and organizations perform.
The default strategy for understanding organizational effectiveness has been to focus on the static descriptions of a company’s characteristics, such as its organizations, facility diagrams, process maps, and organizational charts. However, experience shows that the facilities and technologies, as well as personnel and their roles, frequently change over time, and it is difficult to capture those dynamics in real-time. We often hear stories about organizations unsuccessfully addressing deep-seated problems by reworking their organizational charts.
It is more time-consuming but ultimately much more useful if we also describe and analyze dynamic changes in the corporate setting. Business process modeling and flow charts have been used for more than 100 years. It is also helpful to look at how people communicate and how consistently they perform the prescribed processes needed to get work done. One can also draw from qualitative research methods such as phenomenology or storytelling to describe organizational dynamics that are critical to understanding their effects. Therefore, the best way is to evaluate a company’s performance is to combine static and dynamic elements in our analysis.
The Blue Dragon Integrated Problem-solving System (BDIPS) is one approach that does exactly that. BDIPS is a truly revolutionary methodology developed in just the last decade. The multi-phased approach accounts for the complexities of the modern working environment that impact human behavior, such as the use of high technology, complex organizational structures, extensive regulations and requirements, big data and data analytics, and the plethora of cultural norms that society places on humans. BDIPS allows practitioners to seamlessly incorporate static elements such as organization charts, plant drawings, records, reports, and administrative requirements, but also dynamic elements such as multiple timelines for event sequences, process flows, equipment performance over time, complex communication norms among organizational elements, and descriptions of cultural norms.
Another powerful aspect of BDIPS is that it encourages critical thinking about the statics and dynamics of the organization’s performance, described in real-time. In BDIPS, practitioners are taught to compare the ideal state of operations that would produce the highest quality output against the actual state of the operations, and to identify where the organization falls short of the ideal (i.e., performance gaps). These gaps in performance are symptoms and evidence of deeper-seated problems. Lines of inquiry questions are then used to explore and determine what causes those performance gaps. Using BDIPS, the questions nearly jump off the page! Why is it not ideal? Why are these things happening the way they are? Why are our defenses not working? What keeps communications from being optimal? … and many more. These top-level questions lead to deeper inquiry, resulting in a true understanding of the deepest problems that are causing the organization’s shortcomings.
One aspect of BDIPS that is truly appreciated by enterprises that have adopted the system is that, in addition to evaluating performance problems, programmatic breakdowns, or events after the fact, it can also be used proactively to conduct preventative/predictive in-depth analysis of facilities, processes, and human performance, to determine the effectiveness of the organization’s defenses against postulated hazards before those hazards can cause problems or events. This proactive approach can be used to assess risks as part of a more effective Risk Management Program.
Combining static and dynamic analysis provides a more complete view of an organization’s performance, helps answer important questions about why things aren’t working optimally, and results in better solutions to improve performance. Most organizational development initiatives look narrowly at static elements. BlueDragon IPS has revolutionized how problems are solved in the modern work environment, taking an integral view combining static and dynamic analysis to give us the best opportunity to solve highly complex problems in the modern era.
About the Author:
William J. Toth, PhD, is the Chief of Research & Development at BlueDragon.
For more information on critical thinking and complex problem-solving, watch this video on our BlueDragon YouTube Training Channel
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