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Organizational Enablement Hierarchy

Why do companies fail? Why do startups go bust?

Sure, having a shit product is one reason.

But, more often than not, there are organizational reasons:

  • management
  • processes
  • resources
  • strategy
  • culture
  • talent
  • roles

And we all want to help our organizations. Whether as experienced managers or young innovators, we all seek to contribute meaningfully.

We want to get better at [fill in your favorite organizational buzzphrase, e.g. ‘team roles’].

But it rarely really works, does it?

Too often, organizational improvement initiatives lead to absolutely nowhere.

Not because people don’t have good intentions. They usually do.

And not even because people don’t have good ideas. They usually do.

After ten years of leading at the highest levels in different roles at some of Europe's most successful startups, I have completely changed how I view improving organizations - and I have created a model for it.

I think that this model can help you become much more valuable in your role as a catalyst: improving your team, your department, your company.

The Organizational Enablement Hierarchy

The main idea is simple:

Organizations are layered. The functionality of lower layers affects the potential of those above. If the foundational elements are flawed, the rest can't thrive. And each layer can only be improved as much as the layers below it allow.

Take 'Processes & Systems' — if your team's structure and roles are weak, tweaking processes won't get you far. The room of effective improvement is small. And solid team structures need the right skills and talents, which in turn depend on sufficient resources.

You can only improve your processes and systems as far as your given structure and role definitions allow.

You get the idea.

Now, this model certainly isn’t 100% correct for 100% of organizations and cases.

But it might explain why your company's ambitious (and maybe even truly clever) strategy flops:

Because your culture doesn’t allow for effective execution on that strategy. But why can't you change your cultural mindset easily? Because governance and leadership isn’t at the level it needs to be. And what’s required to improve those significantly? First of all, better processes and systems.

And so on.

Use the Organizational Enablement Hierarchy as a lens to diagnose and contribute effectively to your organization’s improvement initiatives.

Because that’s also what A-players do.

Talk soon,