Organization Analysis and Work Orientation

Following is a white paper that tea party members and leaders can use to hone their organizational and leadership skills.  I hope you find it helpful.

Executive and management skills are often viewed exclusively as talents, things that some people just do naturally.  But they are skills and anyone can increase their abilities to lead, manage and produce with a little effort.  All organizational and individual efforts require 3 fundamental orientations, or viewpoints from which to view and engage the activity to a successful result.  The skill with which one is able to apply these approaches to any endeavor determines your level of success.  You use these tools well in all areas where you are very successful, and not so well in areas where you are frustrated.

You can use this logic model to evaluate and improve your performance in any area of life and to provide guidance and leadership to others.

Three Fundamental Orientations

–        Task Oriented: A task is an action or series of actions.  It is production.  Workers are most comfortable with this work style, from assembly workers, to mechanics to pilots and doctors.  People who like to “do” things.

–        Process Oriented:  A process is the methodology of production; it is coordinating and managing resources as well as directing the flow of production, the way things are produced.  Managers are most comfortable with process oriented work.

–        Results Oriented:  A result is the end product of tasks executed to completion via an organized methodology.  It is identifying and naming the goals and establishing the vision.  Executives are most comfortable with results oriented work.

Orientation and Organization Analysis

Whenever an organization is experiencing frustration, discord, inefficiency or excessive emergencies, look for an imbalance in these three factors, and it will lead you to the source of the problem and help identify the solution to help increase efficiency, morale and results.

–        While most jobs are dominated by one of the 3 orientations, every job encompasses components of all three orientations.  Excellence requires the ability to use all 3 appropriately.

–        Most people have a favorite work orientation, with which they are most comfortable, but everyone can increase their ability to apply any of the 3 orientations to a given situation.  It is really just a point of view and anyone can change their point of view.

–        Using judgment and your existing expertise, you can use this analytic logic model to identify and improve any organizational sphere, from a single job to a large multi-group organization.

Some General Guidelines

New or young organizations tend to be weak in Management and Productions areas of  Process and Task Orientations.  It is critical for the group to adopt and broadly publish vision and mission statements to identify the Results desired.  Next, it will be necessary to develop programs and processes.  Many tea parties have members who have considerable executive or management skills, but who do not have sufficient time to engage in a leadership role.  Work to identify those individuals and see if they can provide consulting advice and guidance to the leaders.  Always assess the skills of your membership and make every effort to help members find a role within the organization for which they are well suited.  People always prefer to do things that they do well, and are much more willing to participate in activities outside their zone of comfort if they are also utilized in areas where they are already strong.   You wouldn’t use a sports car to move furniture, nor would you use a moving van to run a drag race.

More mature organizations can tend to get process heavy where people are changing too much for the sake of change.  Very mature organizations can lose sight of the vision, or once the initial vision is fulfilled to fail to generate a new vision and goal.    The best example of this is the civil rights movement which has fallen so far as to start creating false civil rights violations to protest, and degenerated into race baiters from a once noble endeavor.

Examples of Misapplied Orientation

–        Worker responding to request with obstacles and reasons why it can’t be done:  Results orientation when task orientation is needed.  The worker wants the answers to the issues it is his job to address, but is delegating up, asking the supervisor to do his work.

–        Manager responding to request for necessary resources with demand for completion.  Results orientation when process orientation is needed.  If the worker does not have sufficient material, resources or authority to complete a task, it is the manager’s job to allocate the appropriate resources.

–        Manager practicing micro-management:  Task oriented when process orientation is needed.  The manager is only addressing the tasks, rather than assigning resources and directing overall process.

–        Executive engaging in debate over how a project should be executed:  Process orientation instead of results orientation.  The executive is doing the manager’s job instead of rejecting a proposal which is not defined clearly enough for an approval or rejection.

–        Worker delaying production until it can be perfected to an unrealistic or unnecessary level.  Process oriented when task orientation is needed.  Sometimes, the job just needs to be done.  The correct solution is to do the job and submit a report on problems with a recommendation for process improvement.

How Can I use this Information to become more effective

The best way to drill this information is to start with processes and tasks with which you are very familiar.  Select anything at which you are already very expert and break it down into Results (vision), Process (methodology) and Tasks (individual steps).

Make a cup of coffee:

Executive:  Vision of a steaming cup of hot coffee and the executive decision to obtain one.

Manager:  Ensure the necessary materials and supplies are available.

Task:  Prepare the coffee.

If you ask someone who is totally task oriented to get a cup of coffee, you might not get one.

If they only know the Corey coffee maker they can only get a cup of coffee if you have the equipment they are already familiar with.

A person who is totally task oriented will do the following:

  1. Put the coffee pack into the coffee maker drip container.
  2. Pour cold water into the water cavity of the coffee maker.
  3. Put a cup or pot onto the hotplate beneath the drip container.
  4. Push the Start button.

Someone who is totally task oriented and does not understand the process will be unable to make coffee if he/she doesn’t have one of the familiar tools, coffee maker, coffee pack, electricity.  But someone who truly understands what it takes to make a good cup of coffee will not be stopped by a lack of familiar materials.

Some things are essential.  In order to make a good cup of coffee, you need coffee grounds, water, a fireproof container and sufficient heat to boil the water, a means of filtering out the grounds.

You can boil water in a pan, pour in the grounds and let it steep then filter it through a loose weave cloth into a cup or pot.  And, you can do this with a camp fire and a pan, or you can get an espresso maker and go all high tech.

And someone who is really stumped with missing resources/supplies or broken equipment, will simply  get in the car and drive to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks or 7/11 and buy a cup.

There are a lot of ways to solve the problem, and the better versed a person is in the nature of coffee and availability of materials and resources, the greater the certainty that he will actually obtain the result.

In the areas where you are highly expert, you shift from Results Oriented, to Process Oriented to Task Oriented fluidly as necessary, without even thinking about it.  It has become second nature.  To learn these orientations, for 1-2 weeks, stop what you are doing 5-6 times a day and identify which orientation you are using at any given time.

Following are a set of drills to work on for 2 weeks each.  The assumption is that you will not be focusing your attention on this for more than a few minutes a few times a day.  A little attention a few times a day over a period of weeks will give you far more skill than drilling it intensively examining everything that you do against this logic.  Over-analysis of your own behavior will have you second guessing yourself and undermine the very skills and abilities the drill is supposed to enhance.

Week 1-2

Applying this logic to areas where you are already expert, will increase your ability with the subject matter.  You should feel confident that you can always identify which work orientation you are using at any given time.

Determine which orientation you enjoy the most.  Start paying attention to opportunities to utilize the orientations you don’t like as much.  The more familiar and comfortable you are with all 3, the more effective you will become at any endeavor.

Week 3-4

Start observing others’ activities and behavior.  What orientation are they employing in their various activities? Before you can even consider identifying which orientation they should use, you must first become proficient in identifying which IS being used.

Again, do not over apply this information lest you become hyper-critical.  Everyone is doing their best most of the time.  You are observing periodically throughout the day not constantly.  The idea is to develop a skill, not a habit.

Week 5-6

Start paying specific attention to problem areas and identify which orientation is being used, and which would solve the problem.  Now you can start troubleshooting activities based on this information.

When people tell you their problems, start applying this logic.  Is there a vision or an end result?  Does the person know what the result would look like if the problem were solved?  Has the person identified the proper resources and materials to achieve the result?  What needs to actually happen to produce the result?

If nothing else, using this methodology for problem solving will enable you to rapidly identify the person who revels in his/her unsolvable problems.  As you start breaking it down with the appropriate questions, the person who is savoring and enjoying their problem will start to obstruct and refuse to participate in identifying the solution.  You can breathe a sigh of relief…this is not a person in distress who needs your aid.  This is a person who uses problems to get attention or to delegate their personal responsibility to you, or society, etc.  You don’t have to worry about them, they are already in 7th heaven, and you can go about your more productive business with a clear conscience and light heart.


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