On the way to the Veterinarian’s for an emergency run, we passed a church whose billboard stated “You can’t see the picture, if you are inside the frame.” The statement clearly applies to both our organizations and the dichotomy that exists in almost every workplace on the face of this globe we call earth.
Taiichi Ohno, the creator of the Toyota Production System, charged his managers with standing in a circle and observing the organization in real time. If we take Ohno’s charge in to consideration what we find despite the functional area, each is asking for a seat at the partner table. The difficulty is that each looks at the partner table from its own unique perspective. Sales and marketing proclaims that they deserve that seat because they bring in customers to the business. Accounting/Finance proclaims that despite sales role, they are the ones who need to be at the table because they control the spending that keeps the organization afloat. Research and Development says wait a minute; we are the only ones who deserve to be at the table because the success of the organization is dependent on the innovations that they bring to the market. Production says no they are the true party that belongs at the table because they make the products that the customers purchase. Human Resources says that if it is anyone who deserves to be at the table it is them, as they are the gatekeeper for the introduction of talent to the organization to fill staffing needs.
The problem is that each looks at their entitlement to be at the partner table from inside their particular picture frame. When asked to look at the bigger picture the tendency is to reply that is not my job. In order for the organization to sustain itself, to thrive, to be the market leader that reply is the proof they are looking at the picture from inside that frame.
The business world of the 21st century requires every function learn the language of business. They need to understand how each function plays as part of the whole jigsaw puzzle. They need to understand that each and every function within the organization is interdependent on the rest of the organization. Sales and marketing creates the market for our products, which requires manufacturing to build the products. Research and development creates new versions of the products to which sales and marketing takes into the field. Accounting and finance works with manufacturing and Research and development to determine the pricing level we need to be at for the organization to make a profit. Human resources need to understand that their effort to introduce human capital assets to the organization is part of the effort to create a viable organization. If HR understaffs the organization, manufacturing will not be able to produce the final product on the customer’s schedule of need.
The final picture of the organization becomes clear only after we take ourselves out of the frame we call our silos. The real empowerment of the organization comes when we change the culture of the organization away from the silo mentality and move toward a totality of organizational DNA as Ohno asked their managers to seek out as they observed the organization. The final picture becomes clear when everyone is respected for what they bring to the organization and the mood of the organization changes to one of we are all in it together.
Look the future and take yourself out of the frame and truly look at the total organization and what the new normal requires all of us to achieve in order to be strategic in focus, central focus on the needs of our customers and alignment with the mission, vision and objectives of the organization as a whole. We can no longer remain inside the frame, we need to constantly see the whole picture.