I will close Death of the Org Chart with a discussion of how to maintain Organizational Cognizance. My sincere hope, though, is that this is not a conclusion for you but the beginning of a long and fruitful journey. The “death” of the Org Chart spells the birth of the Org Graph, which will grow and evolve with your organization. It is not a one-and-done affair, any more than planting a garden is. Without pruning, weeding, and fertilizing, a garden quickly reverts to jungle, and organizations are no different.
The Org Graph must be continually updated, reviewed, and maintained, but the good news is that it is largely self-maintaining and self-correcting. As I’ve said, ICs participate in building their own Nodes and Edges in the Organizational Cognizance Model, and our Organizational Graph software is designed with this sort of self-maintenance in mind. Anyone who’s ever used a computer can begin clicking on icons to create their Nodes and Edges immediately. With the help of a supervisor, a new IC can begin updating or building Nodes for Positions, Objectives, Key Results, Systems, Workflow, Processes, Meetings, etc. his or her first week.
Having ICs help build, maintain, and update the Org Graph familiarizes them with the tool, educates them about their Positions and other Nodes, and keeps them focused on their Objectives and Key Results. For Organizational Cognizance to take hold, we want ICs referencing the Org Graph on a regular basis as they reflect on the agenda of an upcoming Meeting, the Purpose of a Process that’s part of their Workflow, the Mentor they can ask about a new challenge…We want them to see in this clear visualization where they fit within the organization, how they are connected to other ICs, Teams, and Workflows.
We want them to know who is doing what and why, and what am I doing and why.
Having ICs maintain the Org Graph themselves – with input from leaders, of course – boosts what I have been calling Self-Accountability. Having Objectives and Key Results hammered into you helter-skelter by a boss, or several, is one thing. Helping to create them yourself in a clear visualization that connects them to all the moving parts you touch, with the ability to view it through a variety of helpful lenses, is quite another. The second option puts the IC in control of her work, results, and advancement. It gives her ownership and allows her to answer yes to the vital hinge question of the big Seven: Do I understand and embrace what I am Accountable for? As we’ve seen, it also helps get her to yes on the other six Questions too.
This is why all ICs, whatever their Jobs and Positions, have one Position in common, the one we label “Org Graph Maintenance” in the Organizational Cognizance Model. Keeping your piece of the Org Graph accurate and up-to-date, with all Edges spelled out, all Meetings accounted for, new Systems added, dated Procedures revised, etc. is a part of every single Job. Making Maintenance a formal Position, and not just something that’s mentioned as an administrative chore, emphasizes the importance of the Org Graph for ICs and keeps them focused on the tool that will help them reach Cognizance. It’s the grease that keeps the machinery working and a check against the dysfunction that’s the opposite of Cognizance.
THE SEASONAL MEETING
Another key tool that maintains Cognizance is the one-on-one Seasonal Meeting, which I touched on above and write about extensively in The Patient Organization. I recommend that you read that book for best practices around this opportunity to affirm a yes to each of the Seven Questions and to formally review each IC’s place in the Org Graph.
The general idea is that every IC should be meeting with a Coach (supervisor, Team leader, Mentor, etc.) every ninety days. The overall agenda for this meeting is the Org Graph and the Seven Questions. Since the Organizational Cognizance Model is built on Self-Accountability, with ICs creating their own portions of the Org Graph and answering the Seven Questions themselves, the IC leads the meeting.
The IC should review and evaluate the Key Results she is ResponsibleFor and the Objectives she is AccountableFor, using the Org Graph and whatever metrics the organization has established (creating solid metrics is also covered in depth in The Patient Organization). How does she evaluate her own performance? What areas need improvement? What Skills does she want or need to work on? How is she being developed?
It is as easy as going down the 14 Point Cognizance Checklist.
Reviewing the Org Graph together, the IC and Coach can also make any necessary adjustments at the Seasonal Meeting. There shouldn’t be much to adjust, since the Org Graph is continually updated, but this a formal chance to affirm that it’s being well maintained and reflects the reality of the IC’s organizational life (unlike the static Org Chart).
Do any new Positions need to be connected to her Job or old ones cut or shifted on the Org Graph? Are her Positions capturing everything they need to, with no items slipping in between (remember the dome-topped table)? Is her capacity at the right level – Positions not so full that items are spilling over and not so empty that she isn’t challenged and engaged? Is every Meeting this IC Attends on the Graph? Is every System she InterfacesWith accounted for? Is she still InteractingWith all of the Entities listed as connections to her Positions?
The Seasonal Meeting is a chance to look ahead and plan, too. How should Objectives be adjusted for the next season? What Key Results will help the IC achieve them? What Skills might she work on (including certifications, classes, trainings) to make sure that she belongs (Question 1) and is developed (Question 6)? If her work-life balance (Question 7) is out of whack, what will she do to recalibrate?
The Seasonal Meeting is led by and focused on the IC, but as you walk through his or her portion of the Org Graph, the process inevitably leads to discoveries that affect the whole organization (Organizational Cognizance is all about a deep awareness of how Nodes are connected). Bottlenecks in a Workflow will come to light, Positions that are redundant, Meetings that have grown too large or lost focus. With a heightened sense of control and Self-Accountability, the IC is often the one to see and raise such problems.
CRACK SOME MORE EGGS
Like the Seasonal Meeting, our key Organizational Cognizance exercises, Cracking Eggs and Flower Power, and the Organizational Cognizance Position Capture Worksheets, must be revisited periodically to keep the Org Graph up to date and to maintain Cognizance. Whenever fuzziness arises about who is Accountable for what or people begin complaining about a lack of capacity or a Team says, sorry, we just don’t have the bandwidth to get that done, it’s time to get people in a room and take a full inventory of what everyone is doing.
The A-players who pick up slack or fill in when someone leaves or there’s a rush of new business, tend to hang onto those sticky Positions, no matter how temporary they are supposed to be. The Org Graph makes such problems of capacity, domain, and authority easy to spot, and a new round of Cracking Eggs and Flower Power allow the organization to make the necessary adjustments to Positions and Jobs.
If you repeat the Organizational Cognizance exercises as needed, schedule Seasonal Meetings every ninety days, and most important, make Org Graph Maintenance a standard Position for every IC, your Graph will remain current, vital, and eminently useful. The organization will build and maintain Cognizance because it’s now part and parcel of your culture. It will be understood that new ICs hit the ground running. They start work aware of the Workflows they ParticipateIn, the Processes they Follow, the Systems they InterfaceWith, and the Teams they are MembersOf. Every IC appreciates why each Meeting he Attends is important, and how it relates to his Positions and Purpose. All systems – ERP, HRIS, accounting, Supply Chain, Facilities, etc. – are fully integrated, with connections clearly spelled out, and our Teams largely run themselves because this is who we are.
New ICs stepping into a Job will have a deep well of organizational knowledge to draw on, and their onboarding will be faster and easier. They will be more engaged, and you will experience less turnover. They will perform better and bring a faster ROI – all of which has a positive effect on the bottom line.
These benefits are obvious, but the Org Graph brings others that are tougher to quantify. ICs will experience an atmosphere where people know at a deep level what’s going on. They’ll understand where they fit within the organization, how their work affects others, who is doing what, and why – and they’ll be surrounded by people with this same deep level of understanding. With the Org Graph and the Organizational Cognizance Model in place, you will have what I think of as a Culture of Cognizance. In such a culture, leaders can lead, rather than simply manage, and engaged ICs can enjoy true Accountability. An organization with this sort of culture, with real Cognizance, has everything it needs to leave the competition in the dust.
CONCLUSION: WELCOME TO REALITY
Death of the Org Chart is designed to be an introduction. It is necessarily brief and abridged because, unfortunately, the paper product in your hand has the same limitations as another two-dimensional artifact, the old Org Chart. I have printed screenshots throughout the book, and I’ll include more in an appendix. I’ve printed and defined the Nodes and Edges used in our Org Graph software, and I’ve explained the Org Graph and Organizational Cognizance Model as best I can, but none of this is adequate.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a few minutes experiencing an actual Org Graph online is worth 20,000. I encourage you to go to https://ograph.io where you can watch a couple of short demos that display an Org Graph in action. They’ll show you much better than I can here how useful an Org Graph can be and how simple it is to begin building one of your own.
At https://ograph.io you can test various features and take the software for a spin to try out our tool for building an Org Graph. As I’ve said, our Graph Database software is by no means mandatory. If you have another way to visualize organizational complexity this clearly in a user-friendly format with multiple views, you can use it to create your Org Graph. This is simply the best solution I’ve found, a tailor-made answer to the inadequacies of the classic Org Chart that I’ve been struggling with for years. Whatever means you choose to build your Org Graph, I recommend that you start with the visualizations at https://ograph.io simply to see how an actual Org Graph looks and functions.
To learn more about the Seven Questions and Seven Promises critical to cultivating culture and engaged ICs – only lightly touched on here – I recommend that you read The Patient Organization. That earlier book provides the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the Organizational Cognizance Model, a deep-dive on each of the Seven Questions, and concrete strategies and exercises – the “Heavy Lifts” – that get you to yes and foster Organizational Cognizance. You can learn more about The Patient Organization, as well as the Seven Questions and Seven Promises Momentum framework at www.7q7p.com and at https://learn.7q7p.com.
The fact that you’re holding this book means that you get it. You have understood, maybe for a long time, that using the old Org Chart feels like making complex calculations on an abacus instead of a computer. You have known that a better tool was needed, one that reflects the messy reality of a complicated 21stcentury organization, but until now, none was available. Embracing this new tool as an early adopter will give you a significant edge over the competition.
Congratulations and welcome to the 21st century. You have taken the Red Pill, to return to our Matrix analogy, and are well on your way to answering Peter Drucker’s all-important question, who is doing what? You are on the road to Organizational Cognizance.
The Org Chart is dead. Long live the Org Graph!
Stay patient, my friends.