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Your Organization’s Infrastructure: Building from the Inside Out

There are many ways an organization can enhance its level of organizational health. None of these is any more important than driving innovation into the organization’s infrastructure. In our last post, we contrasted the ideas of innovation and the bureaucratic organization. Today, let’s take a quick look at how innovation can lead to a healthy infrastructure. Remember – innovation is all about adaptability and flexibility, being responsive to shifts in the organization’s external and internal environments.

To appreciate fully the importance of an organization’s infrastructure, consider the human body. The bones and internal systems may not be visible, but they affect the body’s appearance and actions – that which can be observed. If we take care of our body’s internal needs (good eating habits, exercise, rest) then we will strengthen and improve appearances and actions.

A healthy innovative organization will have a strong infrastructure (i.e. bones and internal systems). The organization won’t need to promote its innovative tendencies - it will be obvious in its appearance and actions. Many organizations want to be seen as innovative. In fact, they spend time and money telling people just how innovative they are, whether they are or not. So in many ways, the idea of ‘innovation’ has become just another organizational buzzword.

So what exactly, is infrastructure? The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as, “An underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or system. … The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons. “

“That’s great,” you may be thinking, “But how can I create that within my organization?” So glad you asked! Here are eight dimensions of infrastructure your organization will want to establish:
  1. Human Resources- How your workers are treated and rewarded.
  2. Communication - Everyone needs to be on the same page, so be sure to communicate changes, special events and enrichment opportunities.
  3. Technical Systems – In this era of 2.0 interactions, it is vital that your organization be up-to-date with electronic/technological advancements. No, you do not have to have the latest and greatest, but do not be significantly behind the times either.
  4. Legal Coverage – Protect yourself! The innovative organization drives the content of the legal documents, not the other way around.
  5. Foundational Values – This is one of the most vital parts of the infrastructure. Your values define what is important, how decisions are made, how your people treat each other and how they treat your clients and customers. Oh – and – make sure you communicate those values and really hold people accountable for living them out.
  6. Financial Systems – Regular, periodic reviews of systems and processes by external professionals helps promote efficiency and reduce exposure.
  7. Tracking and assimilation – An innovative organization knows its people and helps them connect with each other. It understands the level of commitment of each of its members and stakeholders.
  8. Facility and Grounds Management – Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Be sure that the outside of the facilities is neat and well-maintained.
By taking care of the parts of your organization that people don’t necessarily see, your organization’s innovative nature, indirectly will be clearly visible. Remember, innovation has more to do with the flexibility and adaptability inside an organization. How healthy is your infrastructure? Contact Pinnacle Consulting & Coaching Group, we would love to help you.

An Innovative Approach to Business

In today’s economy, organizations generally understand that in order to be successful and recognized by others, they need a brand. This brand is more than a logo with your name, but includes the products and services the organization provides, as well as the practices, personality and culture the organization embraces. Simply put, these elements constitute what people generally think of when they hear/see your organization’s name.
Before one can develop this brand, it is important to define “who” your organization is. As definitions of words vary from person to person, take the time to bring all participants together to determine who you are and what you want your brand to be. Some organizations want to be known as traditional, some as contemporary, and others as innovative, while some may prefer the tag progressive. But regardless of the word(s) used, just be sure that the definition used is understood by those involved. For today’s post, we will focus on what it means to be an innovative organization.

A Definition of Innovation

The American Heritage Dictionary defines innovation as, “The act of introducing something new; something newly introduced.” With that definition in mind, an innovative organization is one that will try new things. Leadership will view failure, not as a time when things did not go as intended, but rather as an opportunity to learn something new so that future endeavors will be more successful. An innovative organization does things with purpose and intentionality keeping the big picture in mind. It is characterized by an emphasis on an awareness of external and internal environmental factors combined with a decision process that is productive, allowing for a timely and effective response to the changes within the environment. Consequently, the innovative organization will know the following:
  • When something new is needed
  • How to figure out what is needed
  • What purpose the innovation will serve
  • What success with that innovation will look like

The DNA of the Innovative Organization

In order for an organization to be truly innovative, several components should be a part of its DNA.
  • Awareness of what is going on within the organization.
  • Awareness of what is going on in and around the community, region, etc.
  • The ability of the organization to respond to those internal and external elements. To do this, the organization will need a nimble decision making process. Simply stated, the innovative organization has these characteristics - adaptability, maneuverability, speed and responsiveness.
Without these components, an organization may be described as bureaucratic.

Defining Factors of a Bureaucratic Organization

In order to appreciate the innovative approach, let’s take some time to look at the factors that define the bureaucratic approach. Keep in mind, the bureaucratic organization is not necessarily a bad thing, just different.
  • In a bureaucracy there is not as much flexibility, as their many layers of management impedes decision-making, resulting in a loss of opportunity for doing something new.
  • Bureaucratic organizations are characteristically impersonal. They may not intend to be, but due to procedures, policies and expectations needed to run the organization, people and relationships get overlooked.
  • In a bureaucratic organization, especially a large one, it is very difficult for any one person or group to have any significant influence on the direction or operation of the organization.
  • The bureaucratic organization is great place to work if one merely desires to coast, with little regard to excellence or high-level performance.

“So what,” you may ask, “defines an innovative organization?” Great question! Here at Pinnacle, we see the innovative organization as one that has more to do with flexibility and adaptability than style. The innovative organization will stay in touch with the external and internal environmental factors, and is committed to a decision making process that is proactive and effective. If you would like to learn more about how to be a truly innovative organization, but are not sure how to achieve that, please contact PCCG. We would love to help you.

Organizational Alignment: Understanding the Basics of a Successful Company

When you began your business, chances are you envisioned a thriving company that helped people with a particular service or project. You had great ideas, perhaps some solid leads and an assortment of resources. But beyond that, how much thought did you give to the daily maintaining of your enterprise? For some people, this maintenance means meetings, detailed plans, being willing to ask advice and other components of business. For others, having your own company meant being your own boss; others still, may have been somewhere between the two. This is no surprise as each of us have different ideas about how to manage a business and what makes it successful. But regardless, of the size of a business, one element in particular, must be there-organizational alignment.
What is organizational alignment, you may ask? This is when the component parts of an organization are pointed in the same direction. These components are the employees, members, associates, etc. that make up an organization. It should also be noted that the best way to have organizational alignment is to intentionally design a framework that encourages and strengthens the alignment. Like many things, organizational alignment is not “just for the church” or “just for the business world”; rather it is something that spans the sacred and the secular alike. So how is organizational alignment achieved? Is it some difficult, demanding, drawn out process? Not necessarily. However, there are 4 key principles to achieving organizational alignment. These principles are:
  • Visionary planning
  • Missional planning
  • Strategic planning
  • Tactical planning

Notice a trend here? Yes, it’s planning. In order to achieve successful organizational alignment, planning is a must.

Making the First Move: Planning

Some people are natural leaders, but not necessarily planners (the converse of this is also true). However, to be a success an organization must have leadership and planning. This is an age old truth, even referenced in Scripture when Jesus talks about how one does not build a house without first taking the time to count the cost (Luke 14:28-29). In order for an organization to succeed, frequent planning meetings are necessary. In fact, in Pat Lencioni’s book, the Advantage, he talks about four types of meetings that should be a part of every organization. Only having the occasional meeting will leave people feeling disconnected and break down organizational alignment. Having frequent meetings where responsibilities and accountability are included build a stronger team! It is also important to note that planning means different things to each person. As a result, it is helpful to first establish what planning means to your specific company or organization. This determining the definition of terms can be time consuming, but the outcome is worth it. Not only is having a common definition of planning vital, but understanding what is involved is equally important. Planning, in its most basic sense, is comprised of two connected concepts.
  • Not everyone is geared toward working in all the dimensions of planning.
  • Participants should be focused toward working in the dimension(s) of planning in which they are truly comfortable.

So, how do you begin to build a successful organization? Perhaps, planning still seems a bit over-rated. Maybe, you find yourself making these statements-

  • Things are good just as they are; there is no reason to change.
  • We had a planning event some time ago, there’s no need to do that again!
  • Getting everyone together for a meeting/planning session to determine a common language will be difficult.
Yes, these may “seem” like legitimate reasons to avoid planning, but these perspectives will not garner positives results.
Planning is one of the most essential elements in anything we do. As an old expression goes, “If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time.” No one wants to spend time, energy and resources getting nowhere. By taking the time to plan what you want your business/organization to accomplish and how you are going to reach that goal will take planning. But, you don’t have to do it alone. Here at Pinnacle Coaching and Counseling Group, we have the tools to help your company reach its full potential. Contact us today to learn more.

The Advantage: A Brief Overview

Recently, Patrick Lencioni, acclaimed author of books offering business strategies for organizations of any size and friend of Pinnacle CCG, released his tenth book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business . In this book, Pat takes an in depth look at what makes one company more successful than another. He uses a combination of both fictional and actual business models, combined with both his personal involvement and observed behavior to educate the reader so they can develop strategies that will result in a successful business-regardless of their talent, knowledge, innovation or financial resources. These steps, however, are not just useful in the corporate world but can also be applied to churches, organizations and small businesses.

“The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free and available to anyone who wants it.” This is said at the beginning of the book and is the underlying focus of The Advantage. Once making this statement, Pat then spends nearly 200 pages teaching what is necessary for achieving organizational health. Defined as, “When a company’s management, operations, strategy and cultures fit together sensibly” organizational health is the lynchpin of a prosperous business. Pat explains that companies who are healthy have the following attributes:

  • A Cohesive Leadership Team - A small group (from 3- 12 members but ideally less than 8) of people are collectively responsible for accomplishing a common objective for their organization.
  • Create Clarity - Having clear goals, a precise set of values and an understanding of the role each person on the team.
  • Over-Communicate Clarity – This is accomplished through repetition over time by using the principles found in The Advantage. These principles will make meetings more productive and help employees better understand who your company is and what it is that you do.
  • Reinforce Clarity – Done through hiring people who espouse the company’s values, while providing coaching to those who do not meet the company’s core values; those who receive coaching but do not make changes should be let go.

Implementation of these principles is key to having a successful company. In addition to these attributes, Pat shares tips for having better meetings. These are -

  1. Know the reason for the meeting.
  2. Understand what is at stake.
  3. Grab their attention from the beginning of the meeting.
  4. Provoke positive conflict that is not of a personal nature.

These tips can change how your team views meetings and will cause meetings to be more productive. The four types of meetings are daily, weekly, Adhoc topical and quarterly offsite meetings, which are ideally done with an outside consultant.

Here at Pinnacle Coaching and Consulting Group, we are firm believers in the messages and methods in Pat’s books. The Advantage is certainly a book from which anyone seeking to improve their organization, business or ministry will benefit. If you are interested in receiving help in implementing the methods in The Advantage, please let Pinnacle CCG know. We would love the opportunity to help your business reach its full potential.

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