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Small Business Digest


From 'Lean and Mean' to 'Lean and Smart'

The current recession and the lean, more competitive era that is expected to follow will bring for many organizational leaders unprecedented challenges. For many, the days ahead will require new ways of implementing strategy, of getting work done and of thinking and leading.

A Harvard Medical School faculty member who heads his own consulting firm has developed a way for leaders to meet the coming challenges.  He calls it "Strategic Organization."

It is an integrated approach that aligns every aspect of a leadership system with strategy, says its developer, Gerry Kraines, M.D., CEO of the Levinson Institute. Strategic Organization, he says, is based on rigorous scientific research and consultation and is based on concepts that have been successfully implemented in companies worldwide for more than 50 years.

Strategic Organization begins with a fundamental premise, Kraines says: Get the organization right. His approach provides a blueprint for optimally aligning organizational structures, processes, systems and accountabilities with strategy, he says.

While all businesses are different, they can profit in common from applying Strategic Organization principles to achieve genuine strategic alignment, Kraines says:

1. Organize around the work, not the people. Ask what structures will best support the optimal trade-offs of accountability, capability and efficiency of core organizational processes.

2. Clarify the organization's current structure and process accountabilities in order to identify gaps that may cause conflicts, roadblocks or delays.

3. Identify key processes required for success today and forecast which current or new processes will be critical in the next three to five years if the organization's strategy succeeds.

4. Clarify which roles are accountable for making which decisions today and which other roles do or should have some input into, or effect on, these decisions. Evaluate how seamlessly these processes actually work today and what changes in accountabilities and authorities could improve process flows and outcomes. Repeat this process for the anticipated future processes.

5. Based on these data about current state, create models for optimal current and future organizations. Evaluate which alternative current model offers the best "migration path" toward the most desirable future organization.

6. Identify the accountabilities for each of the core processes of this "ideal" current organizational model and see whether the restructured organization passes the "gut check" test.

7. Evaluate opportunities for streamlining work, consolidating roles and functions and eliminating roles, and then revise the model accordingly.

8. Decide on the structure and accountabilities of the new organization.

9. Assess the potential and demonstrated effectiveness of the group of managers and employees to be considered to fill the restructured organization's roles.

10. Develop implementation and communication strategies, and implement the Strategic Organization.

"In my consulting to business organizations around the world," Kraines says, "I have discovered that most companies are utilizing barely 30% of their potential - especially their human potential. Strategic Organization permits a company to literally capitalize on this unrealized potential. By aligning authorities with accountabilities in a Strategic Organization, employees spend more time doing value-adding work and less time 'working the system.' Employees are more effectively developed, more productive and innovative, and have higher morale and company loyalty."

For a newly released white paper on Strategic Organization, visit

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