I am not thinking about how many pages or slides you need to show the “boxology” – that is, who reports to whom – which usually requires only one page.
What I am thinking about is the number of pages you need to explain:
- Who delivers what to whom
- Who collaborates with whom
- Who lends resources to whom
- Who decides what
A real example – drawn from an internal document – is shown below. This is an attempt to clarify the roles in a major UK bank.
My first impression was that it seemed like a rather good example of how one could clarify the roles of an organization.
When there is confusion with regards to roles and responsibilities, managers and employees usually welcome efforts that can help clarify who is responsible for various decisions and tasks.
A matrix like this may be a good pedagogical tool.
But when examining the document a bit more closely, I noted that the matrix contains no less than 245 cells (5x7x7) as the responsibilities (“Approach”, “Inform”, “Advice”, etc. along the top) depend not only on the particular phase in the sales process but also on the channel and product.
The accompanying Word document explaining the logic of the chart shown above runs to more than 60 pages. And we are still only talking about one of the issues mentioned above – who decides what. I assume that it would require several hundred pages to fully describe the organizational model of this bank.
One may wonder whether employees are able to internalize and enact a model that is this complex.
It’s hard to communicate a model that has a lot of contingencies and exceptions to a general rule (“Unit X is normally responsible for customer contact, but if it is a segment B client requesting service 1 for Region 2, then Y is responsible, and if it is a segment C client requesting service 2 in Region 3, then Z is responsible, except when the client already has a relationship with X…”).
A better approach is to start by looking at the overall organizational model and consider whether it can be simplified.
So we should ask ourselves: Are goals in conflict? Are there overlapping unit mandates? Does the formal structure match the work processes? Do we know who’s the internal client, and who’s the internal supplier?
If the overall model is clear, logical, and simple, there’s usually less of a need for detailed specification at lower levels.
I am not suggesting that we should practice “simplification by ignorance”.
Complexity will not go away by refusing to describe it (for example, by only presenting a new organization design by means of an organization chart showing reporting lines, leaving out other important aspects, and asking employees to find their way through the maze we have created.)
If it really takes 60 pages to describe roles and responsibilities in your organization, that is the number of pages you should use.
But if you have a choice between two models, one that can be explained in 10 pages and one that requires 60, select the former.