The fits-and-starts organization

Based on your responses, your organization is a fits-and-starts organizational type.

Organizations with strong execution “DNA” tend to share similar characteristics. By fostering these traits, you can improve your organizational performance. Here are a few key improvement areas customized for you:

  • Quickly translating key strategic and operational decisions into action
  • Relaying competitive information quickly and effectively to headquarters
  • Making good on commitments to others 
  • Maintaining disciplined efforts where you can win
  • Ensuring consistent messages from top leaders
  • Successfully adapting to market changes
  • Creating clarity around roles and responsibilities
  • Correlating career advancement and compensation with performance
  • Promoting a distinctive culture that creates a competitive advantage
  • Encouraging leaders to "walk the talk"
  • Sending consistent messages to the market
  • Giving employees metrics to evaluate business impact
  • Having the right number of organization layers
  • Giving field employees insight into the bottom-line impact of daily choices
  • Consistently rewarding innovation
  • Pursuing and rewarding collaboration across organizational lines
  • Prioritizing capabilities when evaluating opportunities
  • Maintaining good information flow across the organization
  • Acting decisively
  • Limiting overlapping roles
  • Establishing influence based on reputation, credibility and relationships
  • Motivating people with values and pride

The fits-and-starts organization: “Let 1,000 flowers bloom”

This organization has scores of smart, motivated, and talented people — but they rarely pull in the same direction at the same time.

Scores of smart, motivated, and talented people work in the fits-and-starts organization — but they usually do not pull in the same direction at the same time. When they do, brilliant, breakout strategic moves can be the result. Typically, though, they lack the discipline and coordination to repeat these successes on a consistent basis. The fits-and-starts organization lures intellect and initiative — smart people with an entrepreneurial bent; it’s a no-holds-barred environment in which you can take an idea and run with it. But, in the absence of strong direction from the top and a solid foundation of common values below, these initiatives either clash and explode or simply peter out. The result is an overextended organization on the verge of spinning out of control.

People don’t collaborate effectively across organizational lines. Senior people don’t “walk the talk” and consistent messages are not delivered by top leaders. Leaders in the fits-and-starts organization are more focused on immediate objectives versus playing for the long term.

The fits-and-starts organization is profoundly uncoordinated. Its movements in the marketplace are spasmodic and its messages conflicting, due to the inherent contradictions between and among its core building blocks. For example, while decision rights are highly decentralized, the information required to make the best decisions for the company is often only available at headquarters — if at all. Decision-makers at every level fly blind, and the organization as a whole fails to execute its strategic agenda.

The coherence index specifically measures the coherence or consistency of your organization's strategy. Most fits-and-starts organizations score lower in this area. Coherent companies have a clear set of capabilities that are in line with their strategy and that they use over and over again in their portfolio. Please visit the Coherence Profiler to learn more about the strengths of coherence.

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