by Felix Rydzak, Felix Consultancy and Paul Monus, BP
Power is the ability to make things happen according to one's perspective. Power might be derived from the position a person holds in an organization's hierarchy or from the interpersonal relationships that a person cultivates with other people in the organization. The way a typical organization is structured causes people that are higher in the organizational structure to be more influential and control the actions of others and thus the results. Structured by functions and departments, the organizations reinforce specialization in narrow disciplines. Unintentional consequences of such specialization are well organized separate organizational units not able to work with each other in an efficient way. Reliability is not a concept that can be delivered by one function (e.g. maintenance). Reliability requires all elements of a bigger system to work seamlessly with each other. This is why all recognized means to drive reliability are cross-functional‚ action team members of distinct organizational units working together to tackle an imperfection. If is something missing, a defect of excess things. The downside of the cross-functional teams is that they work against hierarchical structure and central control. People at the lower level in the organization, who typically do not work with each other, start having access to new and unique information from other parts of the organization and might influence the way the things are done around here. This might be perceived as causing the shift of the power in the organization. But on the other hand the access to this new information and taking action together drives innovation, performance and agility. The first step on the way to transform the organization towards reliability is to have managers allow and leaders cultivate the cross-functional cooperation. It is also necessary to set the rules as the boundaries for such cooperation. Many organizations are already doing that. However, it seems that many organizations do not realize the scale of the engagement needed. It takes the engagement of the entire organization.
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