Requisite Organization Design – A Work Levels Approach

By Michelle Malay Carter on March 16, 2008 

organization_chart_0.jpgJust like H2O can exist as ice, water, and steam, work can be stratified into discreet levels. ?Most single business units?have?five levels of work.? Each has a distinct role to play, and each calls for a different level of cognitive capacity.

Level 5?Work
The president at level 5 keeps his eyes on the industry and environment and conceives of the strategy – i.e. who we are and where are we going.? A hypothetical example: We will be a “Tack On” manufacturer.? Once others have released a technology breakthrough, we will imitate and produce.”

Level 4 Work
Then, level four function heads are the translators between the conceptual strategy, “Tack On” and current operations.? They have to constantly ask the question:? Does our current infrastructure (talent, equipment, budget, processes, technology, product line) support our strategy? ?If not, they have to make decisions about how to change the current operations to align with the strategy – by adding or subtracting products, markets, equipment, etc.

Level 3 Work
Level three managers are concerned with making day-to-day operations excellent, i.e. creating and refining best practices.? How do I use our current resources and infrastructure in the best way???How do I make them the fastest, cheapest, most efficient and effective? ?They create and continuously improve serial processes.??As decided necessary at level 4, level 3 managers?do implementation planning and “roll outs” of new technology, equipment, products, as well as contingency planning.

Level 2 Work
Level two is concerned with day-to-day oversight of the production of goods and services, i.e. getting staff hired, trained, scheduled and producing to spec.? They deal with exceptions to procedures.? Level two employees also may be accountable to produce, but level two production or service delivery requires the employee make judgments beyond those that can be fully specified in procedures.? (Level one work output can be fully specified up front.)

Level 1 Work
Level one follows procedures to create the product to spec. or to deliver the service as trained.

Strategic Work Versus Current Operations
Using the Requisite Organization work-levels?model above, you can see that levels 1 – 3 deal with current operations and levels 4 and 5 deal with creating value for the future and sustainability.

Requisite Organization Design (Vertical) – As Simple as Simple Can Be
To properly structure your organization, ensure that all roles report to a role that falls into the next higher level.? Look for my invoice in the mail.? :)

I’m OK.? You’re OK. Let’s fix the system.

Based on the descriptions above, can you place your role?? Bonus question:? Does your cognitive capacity match your role, or do you believe you could do work at the next higher level?? Our research shows that 20% of employees have cognitive capacity to work one level higher than their current role.

Filed Under Executive Leadership, Managerial Leadership, Organization Design, Requisite Organization, Strategy, Work Levels

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4 Responses to “Requisite Organization Design – A Work Levels Approach”

  1. Intuiting Work Levels - Justin Foster’s Strategy Hierarchy | Mission Minded Management on June 3rd, 2008 5:44 pm

    […] Work Levels Described For a reminder on my descriptions of level 5 – 1 work, click here. […]

  2. Organization Structure is a Business Initiative Not an HR Initiative | Mission Minded Management on August 14th, 2008 8:48 am

    […] Missing Collective Understanding I think executives underestimate the connection between organization design as well as all of an organization’s “people” systems, i.e. compensation, […]

  3. Systematically Disabling 83% of Employees | Mission Minded Management on September 10th, 2008 7:50 am

    […] Organization Design Because we don’t understand work levels, we are unable to design requisite work enabling organizations.? We are paying a huge price both […]

  4. Comparing and Contrasting Problem Solving Capability – Continued | Mission Minded Management on August 5th, 2010 10:51 am

    […] The sister truth to the fact that work exists in levels is that human problem solving capability exists in levels as well. Therefore, a level one job will […]

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