Editor's Note: This post was originally published August 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
We live in a world of automatic fixes. If your computer is acting up, you run antivirus software to fix it. If you don’t know how to get somewhere, your smartphone can give you directions while you’re driving—it will even make adjustments to get you back on track if you take a wrong turn.
Unfortunately, there is no such automatic fix to help your business strategy identify potential problems and the solutions that would best address them. In an automated world, organizational development is an area that still requires human ingenuity and ongoing effort to achieve excellence.
People, Process, and Tools
Since technology can’t do all the work, you must create an organizational development plan, establish regular checkpoints to assess your progress, and correct your course along the way. To execute excellently, try using an approach called “People, Process, Tools.” It works like this:
- As Jim Collins advises in his book Good to Great, ask if you have the right people in the right seats.
- Secondly, ask if you have the best process in place to enable people to optimize their performance. Are systems and processes fluid, or are they creating roadblocks to success?
- Finally, ask if your people have the right tools to operate at maximum efficiency. Remember that tools and technology make a great servant and a terrible master, so tools are only valuable if they support and enable better performance.
Picture this: You go for dinner at an expensive restaurant. You place your order and wait patiently for 45 minutes, only to have your meal delivered cold. Is this a problem with people, process, or tools? In fact, it could be any or all of these. If you were the restaurant manager, you would need to dig deeper to determine which area is causing the problem and establish a plan to fix it.
Implementing a System in Your Organization
Even if you think you already know where the weaknesses are with respect to your company’s people, process, and tools, using a systemized approach to organizational development can mean the difference between achieving excellence and constantly patching the holes. Here a few steps to follow:
Evaluate all areas of your organization and ask the following questions:
- People: What skills and competencies are necessary for each role? Do the people in each position have them?
- Process: Are the processes that are currently in place working? Are there new processes that should be implemented to help you achieve excellence?
- Tools: Does each person have the necessary tools to properly execute their role? Do those tools need to be updated?
Create a Path
After you have identified the weaknesses in each area, create a path forward by answering these questions:
- People: What specific competencies does each employee need to develop or hone in order to be successful in his or her role?
- Process: What steps will you take to improve ineffective processes and/or implement new ones?
- Tools: What steps will you take to ensure that each person has the tools they need to succeed?
After you have generated your answers, create clear milestones, schedule training if necessary, create committees, and make the necessary purchases to help you achieve those goals in the stated time frames.
Use Checkpoints to Correct Your Course
As you create your organizational development plan, make sure you create checkpoints between milestones to assess your progress so you can make adjustments as needed. For example, you might find that a particular employee has a more robust skill set than you originally thought, making them a candidate for a future leadership role and putting them on a new training track. You might also discover new tools or processes that you were previously unaware of, making it possible to create a new milestone. Whatever the appropriate course correction may be, you won’t necessarily realize it unless you take a step back and look at the bigger picture of your progress.
Take a good look at your team. If you could improve in just one area, would it be the people, the process, or the tools? If you’re not sure how to get started, download our free resources, The Ultimate Guide to Organizational Development, to learn more about how to assess your current status and create a path to get from where you are now to where you want your business to be.