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Are you Working IN or ON Your Company?

Written by: Betsy Kauffman, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Let’s face it; It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work in your organization, such as the project task list, the endless meetings, or extinguishing the daily fires. There’s nothing wrong with checking things off your to-do list, but sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective.

There are five key areas to assess in organizational design when working with a new company: strategy, structure, process, people, and culture. Each of these areas lends important insights and examples on how you can work on your company versus just in your company.


You need to sit down and evaluate your strategy more often than just annually. You may not have time to do it monthly or even bi-monthly, but perhaps taking a step back and assessing your overall organizational strategy every quarter will help keep you focused on the bigger picture and the mission of the company — not just the answering the emails that flood your inbox daily or joining another Zoom meeting.


Every company, including yours, has some semblance of an org chart or an easy at-a-glance hierarchy map to see who is in which division or department and who their direct report is. And that formal type of structure is important — without it, it would be chaotic and unorganized.

However, informal structures could be just as important. There are many informal structures, rules, and processes well-known among tenured employees but aren’t explicitly explained to new hires — they figure it out after someone tells them or mistakenly break one of those unwritten rules or structures.

It's important to periodically take time to look at both the formal and informal structures. Are your formal structures working well and providing the synergies your company needs to continue producing valuable products and services for your customers? Also, identify and understand the informal structures — they may be productive and healthy but could also be causing unnecessary stress or confusion, in some cases.


What are your organizational processes? Are they clear and simple to understand, or are they complex, confusing, and ambiguous?

We often overcomplicate our processes; we engineer them and create a rigid process that leaves no room for new ideas or incorporates potentially useful “lean out” processes. Additionally, we can have a knee-jerk reaction to a one-time event and create an unnecessary process, believing it will ensure that the same event will not repeat itself.

The worst thing to say in defense of not changing processes is the classic line, “It’s just the way we’ve always done it.” That’s not a reason to continue operating that way — be open to adjusting and evolving your organizational processes and allot time for you and other leaders to assess and reassess these processes continually.


People are the lifeblood of any organization; get to know the people who make up your organization and their current skills and expertise — along with their untapped potential. If you want to build a great company, you need to be open to feedback from the people who work at the organization. They may have unique insights that you have not considered.

Additionally, when it comes to people at the leadership level, build that team conscientiously with those who will become thought partners and help you stay on the path of following the organization's mission and vision.


Many organizations take for granted; they think that as long as there isn’t any major conflict, the pay is good, and the hours aren’t strenuous that they are creating a positive culture.

But it takes more than that to create a positive and thriving culture. It also requires time — time by you and other leaders who know and live your company’s mission, vision, values, and ensuring the atmosphere, actions, and behaviors are positive and fulfilling for everyone in the organization. That only happens if you carve out space and time to work on the company rather than getting stuck in the weeds of the daily grind.

Take a look at your company — are you in need of a shift or redesign? There’s no time like the present to put in the work on your company, not just in your company.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Betsy Kauffman, Executive Contributor, Brainz Magazine

Betsy Kauffman is a globally recognized Organizational Agility Coach with more than 20 years of experience working in Fortune 500 companies. Her company, Cross Impact Coaching, is an Organizational Design Firm focused on working with organizations to help them solve the big problems impeding them from achieving agility, collaboration, alignment, and innovation. She is a published author providing thought leadership to agile and project management communities and speaks internationally on leadership, corporate culture, and organizational agility. She just completed her first TED talk - “4 Tips to Kickstart Honest Conversations at Work” in conjunction with the TED@PMI partnership and was selected by the TED editors to have her talk brought to the main stage– check it out at!



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