Kevin Fong - Organizational Design

The Five Elements of Organizational Success:  A Framework for Clarity and Confidence to Implement your Projects

Last week, a client asked me to observe a staff meeting that had been convened to see why one of their projects was stalling.  After soending an hour sharing about how each person felt in relation to the project, they worked themselves into a state of limbo.  What they needed was a framework to organize their thoughts, see where each person stood and what s/he needed to move the process forward. I offered to help them shape their ideas and intentions using the Five Elements of Organizational Success.

The Five Elements of Organizational Success is a tool that I developed to offer people a framework to analyze their organizational systems, culture and leadership styles within a context of change. The tool has helped people understand and respond to both anticipated and unanticipated changes in a constructive manner. Drawing upon some fundamentals found in nature and the workplace, the Five Elements of Organizational Success builds upon the following:


Element Organizational Stage  Tasks
Water Consolidation Addressing mission, values and evaluation.
Wood Creation Exploring all possibilities of addressing the need.
Fire Direction Prioritizing strategies and attracting investors.
Earth Coordination Developing teams, policies and procedures.
Metal Implementation Producing and delivering products and/or services.
The key to the Five Elements of Organizational Success lies in understanding how each element relates to the other, and how to balance the dynamics among the elements to support people in finding constructive responses to challenges and opportunities.  I asked my client for a few minutes to apply this tool to frame their predicament and develop a set of tangible next steps.

I first asked each participant to write down three questions that s/he needed to have answered in order to move the process forward.  They churned out more than 50 questions, and as we laid them out, people began to feel overwhelmed.  So we organized the questions by element to determine by which sequence they would need to be answered.  Here is a sampling of the questions and their corresponding elements:
- Does everyone agree on the purpose and goal of the project?

- How will we gather input on the needs and capacity of the stakeholders?

- What is holding us up? Where do you think we need to go with this?
- What are our priorities?

- What will our relationships with our partners look like?
- What are our roles, responsibilities and expectations, internally and externally?  

- When will all of the assessments be completed?  

Once we had the questions sorted, we established a process to answer each of the questions in accordance with a constructive sequence -
consolidation - creation - direction - coordination - implementation
and developed an action plan with clearly articulated responsibilities and timelines.  This entire process took about fifteen minutes.  The Five Elements of Organizational Success brought clarity about where they stood as a group and as individuals, as well as confidence that the program was on a good path to success.  The staff agreed to use the framework to continue their planning, measure their progress, and communicate in a constructive manner.
In subsequent articles, I will go into greater depth about the other ways you can use the Five Elements of Organizational Success.  In the meantime, you can find more information by clicking the following link: 

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