Organizational Dynamics and Optimization: Win-Win, The Only Choice

SOURCE: Kay Sever | April 28, 2023

In January, 2023 I introduced the term “organizational dynamics” as a key factor in optimization success. Dynamics is defined as the science of the motion of bodies and the action of forces in producing or changing their motion. If we apply this definition to business, “bodies” are individuals or groups in a company and dynamics refers to how these individuals or groups act, react and interact in the workplace. This article is a continuation of last month’s article, which introduced a new dynamic that affects a company’s success with optimization… management’s definitions of winning and losing and the choices they make because of those definitions.

Management Team Choices – a review

When leaders join a management team or are entrusted with a management role over a crew, department, site or division, they join the management subculture (i.e., the way management thinks, communicates, executes responsibilities and solves problems). In that role, they are expected to be right most of the time… safety depends on it, productivity depends on it, hiring the right people depends on it, setting achievable goals depends on it, and operating strategies that deliver results depend on it! For each individual in management, being right most of the time means they will be considered for promotions and new opportunities in the future.

The LAST THING management wants to discover are mistakes in their numbers or weak management processes that cause problems or a poor result for the company. If a management mistake or a poorly designed management process is causing problems or financial losses, the parts of the organization affected by the mistake or defective process already know about it but cannot fix it. The management team is the ONLY group that can fix such a problem, but sometimes they choose not to. Did you know that their choice depends on the strength of their management subculture? 

If we were together in a conference room right now, I would ask these questions:

What happens if management ignores a problem only they can fix? Who wins? Who loses?

What happens when management takes responsibility and fixes a problem only they can fix? Who wins? Who loses?

The answers to these questions bring new insights about the power of management choices and why awareness of this power needs to be raised, especially when optimization is the goal.

When Optimization and Management Subculture Collide 

How a management team defines winning and losing is part of the management subculture. These definitions have a big impact on the choices leaders make in the workplace. 

In a weak management subculture, winning is all about the management team:

  • Avoiding or ignoring a problem may be more important than acknowledging the problem and fixing it. 
  • Ignoring a problem to protect a management process or a manager’s pride is considered a “win” for the management team, even if the company loses. 
  • There is little awareness that if management’s definition of winning is one-sided (i.e., just for their benefit), avoidable financial losses may occur, morale is lower, mistrust enters the corporate culture, and managers lose credibility… a BIG PRICE TO PAY! 

In a strong management subculture, winning is about the production value stream and the organization:

  • Admitting the problem and fixing it ASAP is considered a “win” for the team and the company.
  • Ignoring the problem would not be acceptable because the costs of doing so are already known.

Why is this topic related to optimization? Optimization shifts the focus to “best possible” performance for production equipment, the organization and management. Some management processes intersect with optimization work and need to be modified or upgraded to maximize ROI. If management teams make one-sided choices that protect the current state of management processes,

  • They will cling to old ways of getting things done, sometimes a mismatch for optimization goals.
  • They will refuse to make changes that align management processes with optimization goals. 
  • Some management directives and choices will conflict with optimization goals. When this happens, a) employees will be confused about the goal and b) millions of dollars that could have been reported as income become “trapped” inside the organization and/or management system and cannot be released. 
  • When potential profit is trapped in organizations or management systems, ROI is lower and OPTIMIZATION IS NOT POSSIBLE! 

WIN-WIN, The Only Choice

When it comes to management’s role in optimization, it’s not about winning or losing for management. When there are management choices to make about fixing problematic management processes, correcting errors in numbers, or aligning processes with optimization goals/requirements, these choices involve WIN-WIN or LOSE-LOSE. The production value stream/organization and the management team either BOTH WIN or BOTH LOSE.  

A shift to WIN-WIN thinking and optimization management tactics will remove these problems and losses as part of the optimization scope of work. This WIN-WIN shift is required to achieve and sustain site-wide optimization. This shift must be initiated and sustained by management. It requires a review of a subset of management processes linked to optimization and looking for and removing hidden optimization barriers within the management subculture.   

AH-HA TAKEAWAY: To be successful with optimization, you must understand the invisible factors that can sabotage performance, corporate culture, and management culture/credibility because those same factors create hidden barriers to optimization. 

Next month: Join me when we will talk about value stream touchpoints and why they should be included in your scope of work for optimization.      

Thought for the year: There is an astounding lack of management awareness about the power of moments… moments when opportunities to capture millions of dollars hang in the balance… moments when courage is the defining factor in preventing or stopping losses and shaping a corporate culture capable of sustaining optimization over the long term. Executives and management teams that have this awareness are empowered to help their people achieve optimization and accomplish great things!      

Kay Sever is an Expert on Achieving “Best Possible” Results. Kay helps executive and management teams tap their hidden profit potential and reach their optimization goals. Kay spent 3 years analyzing the impact of management systems on optimization success. As a result of that study, she developed a LIVESTREAM management training system for Optimization Management called MiningOpportunity – NO TRAVEL REQUIRED. See for her contact information and training information. Email Kay directly at [email protected]

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Kay Sever Author
P.O. Box 337 Gilbert, AZ USA 85299-0337

Kay has worked side by side with corporate and production sites in a management/leadership/consulting role for 35+ years. She helps management teams improve performance, profit, culture and change, but does it in a way that connects people and the corporate culture to their hidden potential. Kay helps companies move “beyond improvement” to a state of “sustained optimization”. With her guidance and the MiningOpportunity system, management teams can measure the losses caused by weaknesses in their current culture, shift to a Loss Reduction Culture to reduce the losses, and “manage” the gains from the new culture as a second income stream.