Improving Performance | Geary A. Rummler

Summary of: Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart
By: Geary A. Rummler


In ‘Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart,’ Geary A. Rummler outlines a systematic approach to boost organizational efficiencies and optimize resources. The book delves into the importance of breaking free from the constraints of organizational charts and focusing on the ‘three levels of performance’ framework. This methodology emphasizes the need for a unified, visionary, and adaptable organization that consistently manages and improves its processes and job functions. Geary’s insights on process improvement, eliminating unnecessary processes, and performance measurement can provide invaluable management tools to modern companies.

Three Levels of Performance

The modern marketplace is too complex to be solved by halfhearted solutions. To fix an organization’s performance problems, one must first fix its system. Beware of programs, as they end, but performance improvement should never end. The “three levels” framework provides practical management tools for achieving this. It identifies three levels of performance and nine performance variables, covering organization goals, design, and management, process goals, design, and management, and job goals, design, and management. Practiced by companies for many years, this framework is a reliable tactic for overcoming daily issues and long-range challenges.

Rethinking Organizational Charts

Most managers rely on organizational charts, but they are poor guides to good decision making. Such charts provoke the silo effect and hinder effective communication. To document an organization properly, one needs to understand the inputs, outputs, and the processes in between each event. A process-driven approach to organizational structure design provides a vehicle to assess the value added at each level. To create an organization that can adapt to marketplace changes, a management team that sees improvement as an exercise for the entire company, not just individual departments, is a must. If every department focuses on its own optimization, it may be difficult to bring the entire company up to the level of peak functioning. To avoid silos or separate business units that hurt the company, ensure your organization is unified, visionary, and adaptable. An organizational chart populated by silos is not a useful management framework.

Organize for Success

Startups need to adapt their organizational structure over time to prevent growth from stagnating due to unorganized activities. Professional organization is necessary, but it’s important to avoid making changes for the sake of it. Every process step should add value to the preceding ones, and all employees from executives to lower-level managers need to understand their roles. Companies should understand how they’re viewed by key stakeholders and decide whether to reshape those perceptions. By understanding the business and creating an efficient structure to achieve its mission, startups can eliminate inefficiencies on their organizational chart.

Streamlining Processes

In order to enhance business performance, leaders must address the efficiency of their processes. Start by identifying all processes, determining which are core and which are secondary, and eliminating any unnecessary ones. Measure the productivity of each process, and continuously adjust them to ensure they align with the organization’s goals. A multiphase attack should be used to improve core processes. Lastly, leaders need to avoid committing the seven deadly sins of process improvement by linking strategic initiatives to specific individuals, assigning improvement tasks to the appropriate people, giving teams clear assignments and holding them accountable, considering how people will work in a new process, sharing responsibility for process design, and implementing proper means of measurement.

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