Improving Performance | Geary A. Rummler

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


In the book summary of ‘Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart’ by Geary A. Rummler, readers can expect to learn about fully integrating an organization, rather than working in silos or allowing wasteful fiefdoms to develop. This summary highlights the importance of understanding the organization’s processes on an overall level to enhance its performance in the complex marketplace. It also provides an alternative guide to organizational management through the ‘three levels of performance’ framework which consists of the organization, processes, and job functions; all interconnected through goals, design, and management.

Three Levels of Performance

The book emphasizes that an organization should make efficient use of its resources and generate creative responses to change in its environment by truly integrating the entire organization, rather than working in silos. The author believes that to fix an organization’s performance problems, one must first fix its system. Instead of reacting only to immediate problems or seeking single solutions to complex organizational problems, the author suggests using the “three levels” framework for making management decisions.

This framework identifies three levels of performance and nine performance variables, which affects performance. The three levels of performance are the organization, processes, and job functions, each needing goals, design, and management. This structure provides executives with practical management tools and has proven to be a reliable tactic for overcoming daily issues and long-range challenges. The book emphasizes that one should not be complacent about the future, and setting an organization that makes efficient use of its resources is essential in modern marketplace.

Mastering Organizational Design

An organization’s success doesn’t depend on its chart but on its adaptability and unity. Processes that focus on betterment of the entire organization are essential.

Most organizations rely on organizational charts for guidance, but it can lead to communication problems, territorial disputes, and missed opportunities. The silo effect, caused by organizational charts, is not a useful management framework. To design a perfect organization, it is necessary to identify inputs, outputs, and the processes in between. It can help to create an adaptable team that focuses on the overall betterment of the company. Individual optimization of departments can lead to overheating in one department and sabotage by individuals or separate business units. A sales department that sells more than the company produces is an example. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on the entire company’s improvement rather than individual departments.

A process-driven approach to organizational structure design can add value at each level, creating an adaptable, visionary, and unified organization. Thus, a successful organization’s chart doesn’t determine its success, but adaptability and unity are crucial factors.

Organizational Growth for Startups

Startups must adapt their organizational structure as they expand. It is important to understand the company’s values and create a structure to achieve its mission. Ensure executives, managers, and workers understand their roles and responsibilities. Understand how stakeholders view the company and reshape those perceptions if necessary. Each step in the process should add value to the preceding steps. Act thoughtfully, not out of necessity, to avoid harming the company’s growth. By doing so, the white space on the organizational chart can be eliminated.

Improving Business Processes

The key to enhancing business performance is by improving your company’s processes. Recognize and categorize your procedures, and focus on making your primary processes more efficient. Eliminate unnecessary processes that no longer align with your goals. Use a multiphase approach to identify and improve core processes. Avoid the “Seven Deadly Sins” of process improvement and measure your progress towards achieving your organizational goals. Remember that change can be small but still provide a significant improvement.

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