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Stephen Redwood shares an article that explores managing resources during disruptive times.

As companies go through phases of growth and decline, innovation and stasis, integration and diversification, resource needs fluctuate in terms of numbers, types and capabilities. Even for eminent companies such as du Pont, General Motors and Sears Roebuck, these cyclical phases have more often than not resulted in – as the professor of business history, Alfred Chandler, once wrote – “Resources accumulated, resources rationalized, resources expanded, and then once again, resources rationalized.”1

 It is an unfortunate reality that the “resources rationalized” part, more often than not, relates to reducing headcount. How best to achieve that is a common source of questions from clients, often hoping for some magical thinking that will enable a rapid and relatively painless outcome. The reality, however, rarely matches those aspirations but not because of a lack of possibility, more because of a lack of method.

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Key takeaways:

Determining the types and sizes of particular resource groups required in the short term versus those likely to be needed in the longer term is a challenging task when faced with the need to undertake a rightsizing transformation. This speaks to the importance of finding the right balance between strategic potential (“doing the right things”) and tactical details (“doing things right”).

A lack of access to adequate data or an understanding of the reasoning behind why things operate as they do only add to the challenge. This is often compounded by variance in job roles and responsibilities across organizations.

Ultimately, though, there is a finite set of ways to look for savings opportunities, but unless changes are made to the flow and volume of work in the business, none of the savings will stick.

Once identified, savings should be prioritized so that a properly managed transformation program can be established to ensure objectives are achieved without upsetting key growth or innovation initiatives.

 

Key points include:

  • Assessing the landscape
  • Restructuring at the top
  • Bending the cost curve

 

Read the full article, Separating the Forest from the Trees, on RedwoodAdvisoryPartners.com.

 

 

To ensure companies have the talent that will grow the business, Stephen Redwood explains how a multi-track career model is the better choice for today’s agile and lean requirements.

In a world where attracting top talent is increasingly competitive there is certainly a case for focusing attention on that special and small number of company roles that are deemed critical to success. Those roles may well shape the agenda, define points of focus, and be responsible for creating much of the potential business value, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it is the collective performance of the whole employee population that ultimately delivers the actual results. In thinking of a suitable metaphor, I was reminded of the poem Where Many Rivers Meet by David Whyte. The title conjured just the right image for the way career models should combine the flow of capabilities across organizations to support strategic goals and individual ambitions alike with a force like ‘the mouths of the rivers sing[ing] into the sea.’

The narrowly defined career paths of the past, that reward climbing a hierarchy of increasingly administrative general management roles, no longer fit with the leaner, agility-focused, diverse and dispersed operations of today’s companies. Nor do they fit with the expectations of an increasingly mobile, diverse, remote and ‘gig-minded’ talent pool of today’s society. More flexible career paths are the order of the day, yet in many cases the need lags behind the reality.

 Clients often ask me what they should factor into their thinking as they evolve new designs that allow for multiple career paths, providing opportunities for a wide range of skill sets and capabilities.

 

Key points include:

  • Addressing the practical realities of the global labor market
  • Balancing individual and organizational needs
  • Offering different career tracks

 

Read the full article, Where Many Rivers Meet – Building Multi-Track Career Models That Work, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Stephen Redwood provides an article on organisational design and explains how to determine solid, fact-based, reference points that provide a platform for change and help keep projects grounded.

 

Silicon Valley is a get-it-done-fast world that has led the development of many new ways of thinking about how to operate a business. Design-thinking, crowd-surfing, hackathons and agile development are examples of common tools used by rapidly growing tech companies to cut down the scale and time it takes to build products and win customers. Is there an equally swift approach to organizational design that would support the metamorphosis from early stage to full-on growth in the tech world? This article focuses on 5 questions that cut to the core of organization design, and that may provide a path to an hyper-accelerated process – the 1-Day Organization Design Project:

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

What is causing the problem?

What is in scope for discussion

What options should be considered?

How should you proceed?

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying the relative types and scales of impacts on situation
  • The four basic causes that affect direction
  • Clarifying scope

 

Read the full article, Organization Design for Early Stage Valley Cats, on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Stephen Redwood’s clients have been asking questions about how operating models will change post pandemic and how to accelerate time to market. He collaborated with Colin Taylor, to identify six priorities to focus on when rethinking your go-to-market (GTM) model.  

Cross-functional synchronization and alignment around a unified go-to-market approach is uncommon but has great value. Transforming your go-to-market approach can increase brand value, optimize growth investments, empower sales teams and accelerate time-to-revenue. This article discusses six tips to realizing this latent value in your organization:

 

Information in this article includes:

  • Minimize your limiters (decision making and hand-off hold-ups) and maximize your accelerators (streamlined processes, formal collaboration mechanisms, clear accountabilities)
  • Build a single company-wide model to establish a trusted and consensus view of all the interlocked go-to-market activities working together
  • Clarify accountabilities and devolve decision making closer to hand-offs across the business system
  • Build a company-wide, shared sense of accountability into processes and KPIs. Establish cross business communities that bring together critical silos at the intersections of hand-offs
  • Adjust goals, provide training, communicate continuously, and keep leaders on point
  • Establish oversight mechanisms to ensure the system is continuously updated to keep it relevant

 

Read the full article, Why is our go-to-market so inefficient and slow?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Stephen Redwood has published a series of articles that draw from his experiences over a long career in consulting to help respond to the implications of COVID-19 and build strategies for the future. 

In the face of huge upheavals with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have few reference points on which to base decisions about how their organizations need to adapt to changing circumstances. Clients have asked me for my thoughts on how to frame their thinking. It’s early days so, as Winston Churchill said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” 

Organization design is too often seen as a narrow set of considerations about roles and reporting relationships. This is way too reductive. The design of an organization should consider all the elements that affect how it functions. Particularly now, when so much outcome uncertainty exists, attention needs to be given to culture, metrics, and development opportunities to drive appropriate behavior change in people. From my conversations with clients and a variety of other sources, here are some early thoughts as we learn to respond to the implications of COVID-19 for how companies operate.

 

Included in this article:

  • Planning for the future
  • Redesigning processes
  • Redefining leadership
  • Long-term transitions

 

Read the full article, How will organization design be impacted by COVID-19?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Stephen Redwood provides answers to commonly asked questions that help his clients increase the strategic value of Human Resources (HR).

If there is one thing that has been a constant over my years in HR and decades as a consultant, it has been the sense that the HR function is too often a supplicant to other functions and lacks the confidence to see itself as an equal. So, when clients ask me how they should be thinking about the evolution of their own HR function, in my mind is the question of how to overcome this mindset and establish a better understanding of how it can provide greater strategic value. 

With that said,Winston Churchill’s words “It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see” resonate with a challenge that faces HR: people and cultures take time to change so, what exactly should one be changing to and with what timeframe in mind?

 

Questions covered in this article include:

  • Given no constraints, what is the most positively impactful contribution HR could make to the organization?
  • How can HR gain the “permission” and latitude to achieve its potential?
  • What should HR be working harder at?
  • How can HR gain sufficient agility to build and sustain a high impact contribution?

 

Read the full article, How Can We Increase the Strategic Value of HR?, on LinkedIn.

Stephen Redwood provides a post that addresses a common problem most companies face when shifting to a new system: how to organize all the moving parts to prepare for the transformation. 

 

Not since the world went from moving around by horse and cart to the use of steam engines, has the pace of change accelerated as much as it is now. So, when back in February 2018 Forrester published a paper entitled Digital Rewrites the Rules of Business it quite rightly focused on the need for companies to think transformational, rather than incremental when figuring out how to adapt to the digital world.

Many of my clients are on this journey and have asked me the question: “How should we organize for digital?”

 

Points covered in this article include:

 

1: The right reporting line for digital

2: Capabilities within the digital function

3: How to resource digital

4: The readiness of company culture

 

Read the full article, How Should We Organize for Digital?, on LinkedIn.

Thinking about kicking off the New Year with the goal of transitioning from senior to executive leadership? Stephen Redwood provides advice on how to achieve the goal. 

 

When coaching clients I am often asked the question: what do I need to know to make the transition from being an already experienced leader to being effective as an executive leader

It’s an interesting, and sometimes surprising, question given that they will already have years of experience as leaders. I believe the reason they are asking is because of the realization that the most senior executive roles are often differentiated from other leadership roles by the:

  1. Weight of ultimate accountability
  2. Complexity and breadth of oversight responsibilities
  3. Challenge of motivating others to accept accountability for problem solving
  4. Difficulty of learning to ask questions rather than give answers
  5. Degree to which messaging has to be effective at a distance

This is not to say these factors don’t play a role to some degree at all levels of leadership, but at the most senior levels each of these generally carries greater consequences for the organization. So, let’s dig in and look at what I’ve often found helps leaders I work with successfully make this transition.

 

Read the full article How Do I Make the Transition from Senior to Executive Leadership? on LinkedIn.

Stephen Redwood explains how organization design projects can fail to meet their objectives.

It’s a funny thing, but when it comes to the subject of organization design the first question clients usually ask me is: “How can we not screw this up?”Not unreasonably, clients recognize how unsettling these projects can be. They know that, too often, the results can fall short of expectations, so they want to minimize disruption and increase the odds of success.

 

In this article, points covered include:

-“Men are Moved by Two Levers Only: Fear and Self Interest”

-What The Eye Doesn’t See The Heart Doesn’t Grieve Over

-Beware Butterflies

-Broken Rearview Mirrors

-Everyone has a best friend

 

Read the full article, How Do Organization Design Projects Get Messed Up, on LinkedIn.