The Cube of Good Management is composed by the following facets and elements:
This facet covers everything related to the “why” and “what for” of the organization. All the people in the organization need to know and share the answers to these questions, since as Simon Sinek puts it: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion”.
- Mission-Vision: These statements should summarize the whole reason of being of an organization, providing inspiration to achieve a superior objective beyond all the individualities.
- Values: A set of inviolable principles that govern the organization and are intimately linked to its mission, vision and value proposition. This is a very high level description of how we are going to do things and allows us to align ourselves ethically and philosophically with our collaborators and clients.
- Customer: An organization that does not create value for its customers has no reason to exist. The customer and the value creation for him through the business model are the true north for any organization and therefore something that must be very present in the design of all elements in the cube.
- Objectives: The strategy and the objectives derived from it represent the specific positioning of the value proposition and must be a leading tool in the day-to-day life of the organization.
To create the value defined in the “Purpose” facet, it is necessary to materialize its principles in a work structure, which consists of the following elements:
- Process architecture: These are the major activity blocks that constitute the organisation’s value chain and which define at a high level how materials and supplies (inputs) are to be transformed into products/services with value for the customer (outputs). Processes will be the starting point for defining the rest of the Structure’s elements as well as for the Codes’ workflows.
- Roles: To be correctly executed, processes require a series of technical skills. In this element, these capacities are defined and grouped in roles that will be assigned to specific people as part of the “People” facet.
- Teams: Grouping the roles in teams is fundamental, not only to guarantee the resources and services provided by managers, but also because teamwork produces synergies with a multiplier effect on the results of the work of each person composing them. The way for optimizing the design of teams must be addressed as part of this element.
- Governance: Governance is understood as everything related to decision-making responsibility as well as the capacity to delegate it, both fundamental for the organization to function as a whole in a coordinated manner. It is important here to define well what these responsibilities consist of, which are to be conceived not only as a right, but also as an obligation.
Defining norms and the way of working is very important for processes to flow, teams to work together and people to feel protected. It is a question here of finding a balance between dictatorship and anarchy (through self-organisation in many cases), which guarantees compliance with values and optimizes value creation.
- Rules: These are the most basic and strictest compliance codes. They guarantee, among others, ethical behaviour and compliance with the mission and vision of the organization.
- Workflows: These are a further level of detail of the processes and define how some roles are to be coordinated with others within the value chain. This is a first step towards greater organizational efficiency.
- Standards: Standards define a common way of doing the activities in the workflows. This is a critical element because as Taiichi Ohno said: “Without standard there can be no improvement”.
- Operational definitions: As defined by W. Edwards Deming “an operational definition is a procedure agreed upon for translation of a concept into measurement of some kind”. Hence this element refers to clear, unambiguous, observable and measurable criteria for rules, workflows, standards and in general for all inputs, outputs and elements in the cube.
Although all the cube facets are important, we could say that this one is the most important. Without people there are no organizations and value creation is impossible. This facet contains all the critical activities that a good manager must perform with respect to the people on his team (it is not by chance that this is the only cube facet that is made up of verbs instead of nouns).
- Select: In order to have the most qualified people, it is required to recruit them based on their technical skills and personal qualities. A good manager must therefore be an expert recruiter and must also know when it is the time to fire an employee.
- Compensate: Managers must be aware of the limitations of salary and variable wage as people motivators, but they must also compensate people fairly for their work. The design of such a system must be tackled as part of this element.
- Develop: The organisation must guarantee the development of its people by providing both technical training and personal coaching, the latter being one of the most important responsibilities of a team manager.
- Energize: You can have a perfect organization from all other points of view, but if people feel that every day they go to their jobs they are losing energy rather than gaining it, your organization will not succeed in the long term. As part of this element every good manager should establish specific mechanisms to communicate, empower and motivate the people in his team.
Rituals are periodic organizational behaviors that are designed to facilitate and put into practice many of the elements in the other cube facets as well as its life cycle. They are one of the most effective mechanisms for ensuring cultural change and are therefore essential for a successful transformation.
- Huddles: Quick periodic team huddles, also known as Standup meetings or Daily Kaizen meetings, are a fundamental practice for both day-to-day planning and strengthening the team’s foundation for collaboration. My recommendation to most organizations is that they begin their Operational Excellence journey by implementing team huddles, an activity for which I have a specific workshop in my service portfolio.
- Retrospectives: This is another ritual meeting in which the team reflects together on what has happened and has been achieved during the last period with the aim of learning from it and continue improving.
- One-on-ones: Private meetings between the leader or manager and each of his collaborators is the mechanism through which a large part of the development and energization of people will be articulated according to what is said in the “People” facet.
- Gemba walks: This element is about managing from the place where the actual work is done (Gemba) rather than from your cubicle. These walks allow managers to obtain more real information about what is happening in the organisation, showing respect for people’s work and developing people through coaching using the Socratic questioning method.
In order to develop quality work in a competitive manner it is indispensable using tools. These tools will be of the following types:
- Money: Many ask me what money has to do with Operational Excellence, but there is no organization or team that can survive without money. All organizations, including NGOs, need money to access other resources. Money is therefore a meta-tool that every good manager has to manage correctly using the right enablers.
- Equipment & Materials: This element is concerned with managing the supplies, raw materials, basic equipment and physical spaces needed to carry out the organisation’s activity. It is essential in this area to work in coordination with suppliers to optimize the value of these inputs, as well as having good organization and inventory management through the use of 5S.
- Information: Everybody needs information to play correctly their role in the organization. Although there is sometimes a lack of information, it is also very common in the times when we live to have an excess of it. This element is about creating information that “radiates”, i.e. information that is available in the right amount at the right time when it is needed.
- Technology: We are living in a time when technology has permeated all society, and such is the case that it is the first impulse of many managers to solve their problems with technology (mainly software, but also automatism and robotics in manufacturing companies). This is a mistake that only leads to wasting money on expensive implementations because, although the technology is necessary, its implementation must only be addressed once all the other elements of the cube have been managed and optimized (this is why I have left technology as the last segment in this introduction). Therefore, the necessary enablers must be developed as part of this element in order to make a responsible and efficient use of technology.
Jorge Díaz – jdiaz.eu
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