Most of you are likely familiar with the catch phrase “Clean Up In Aisle 5″….used colloquially to describe any sort of mess in progress and in need of some attention.

I was thinking about that expression between episodes of Dating Naked and The Mindy Project ….all the while pondering this week’s org charts blog.  Seriously.

Mindy_KalingOkay, so today’s blog was inspired by a somewhat more serious topic – my read of Boston Consulting Group’s recently released white paper on organizational innovation in the retail sector entitled The Retail Revival Series: Succeeding with a Store-Led Strategy.

I’m not sure whether this is good or bad timing, given the recent news concerning Britain’s leading supermarket chain, and the number 2 supermarket chain globally, Tesco…..which apparently has had some clean ups of its own to contend with, in Aisles 1 through 22.

The Tesco story reflects the usual allegations of accounting irregularities and agressive tactics with supply chain counterparties, all designed to boost profits as reported in September, hard on the heels of the recent sacking of former Philip Clarke and his replacement by company outsider Dave Lewis….along with other senior management changes.

Certainly gives a slightly different meaning to the Tesco tag-line…..

Tesco_LogoWhether it represents true improprieties by prior management, or simply another example of big-bath accounting by a new team looking to clean the decks and put some distance between itself and the old one, the bottom line is that Tesco is likely very little different from most other retailers of its size.

But there is no doubt that, like many other industries, retailing is becoming increasingly competitive, and organizations are finding it harder and harder to deliver earnings growth through cost-savings and leaning on their supply chains.

Innovation and revenue generation are the dynamic duo for most retail management teams these days.

Where to find them?

The point was brought home even more for me when – in another clean up reference – I sat through an absolutely compelling presentation by Eric Ryan, co-founder, Chief Brand Architect and standup improv comedian for Method at The Art of Entrepreneurship talking about the journey the “Methodists” (the people against dirty) are on reinventing the household cleaner shelf space for these same retailers….while competing themselves against industry giant brands like P&G, Clorox and Tide.

MethodWith new companies like Method entering the retail space at all levels these days, competition is fierce throughout the entire supply chain.

BCG uses the Coles chain in Australia as a recent example of a new trend in retailing, describing a transformation engineered under the leadership of CEO Ian Macleod, which focused on bottom-up, store led initiatives “designed to spur growth, not simply capture cost savings”.

The very nice thing about these programs for cash strapped retailers is that they “involve no additional capex requirements and no major changes to infrastructure”.

The reason?  They focus on people, and on empowering and engaging people from the bottom up to focus on, contribute to and drive enhanced customer experiences.

An inversion of the traditional “command and control” organizational design of retailers and the adoption of a customer centric “store-led” design focused around a few key performance improvement initiatives.

The_Inverted_Pyramid_SWAT_Team_ModelThe BCG analysis is worth the read for retailers of all sizes and stripes, with its focus on three key people initiatives:

  • selecting a SWAT team comprised of motivated, proactive managers hand-picked for the duration of the change effort,
  • use of stores of learning incubation models to run individual interventions in specific stores, measure the results, and then aggregate those results back in the stores of learning, and
  • immediate impact through rapid rollout of transformation projects that are designed to transition rapidly from stores-of-learning pilot status to a scalable rollout across the whole chain.

So if you are a team leader in sales, operations, supply chain, finance or HR trying to drive innovation and process improvement in your retailing organization where do you fit in all of this?

And the retail sector is not the only sector struggling with change that can benefit from a more proactive approach to change management that engages personnel at all levels.  These themes are equally applicable elsewhere.

Reporting on recent research from IBM China Gorman notes in her recent blog Want To Make Change Happen? You Need Change Architects To Make It So  “the gap between the magnitude of change and the ability of organizations to manage it continues to widen”.

As she notes, in its research IBM identifies three key characteristics that enable leaders to drive change across the organization:

  1. Role modeling throughout the organization.
  2. Engaging employees with a compelling case for change.
  3. Empowering new and passionate change leaders at all organizational levels.

In his blog “The Way Big Cities Think About Large Scale Change” Ben Hecht describes how similar lessons can be learned from the learnings of the Living Cities project, a long-standing collaborative of 22 of the world’s leading foundations and financial institutions, which created the Integration Initiative to accelerate the pace of change in U.S. cities such as Detroit dealing with significant structural challenges. His key learnings for sharing:

  1. Get the right players to the table.
  2. Reimagine roles.
  3. Build, measure, learn and declare.

So what’s the hook back to Organimi?

In a recent blog post entitled The New HR: If We’re the Business Engine, It’s Time To Make Some Noise Jenny Dearborn describes the new generation of leaders in HR as individuals who are:

  1. highly trained specialists, with deep knowledge of their vertical, who keep the rest of their team informed about the latest research about best practices in their area;
  2. business focused strategic partners, aligned with their company’s business goals and focused on developing line-of-business expertise, so that they can act as informed consultants to business units, rather than simply giving general advice;
  3. tech saavy adopters of new technologies designed to help drive business transformation with technology adoption that aligns with the fast pace of change in the business units they deal with.

Jenny notes the link between where HR is today and where finance and admin teams were a decade ago and how they have evolved from “bean counting” to “strategic partner” roles in the business.

In today’s business climate we think the same applies regardless of what area of the business you operate in.  All these insights tying innovation, change management and revenue growth together share a common denominator – the people in your organization.

Getting greater innovation, better alignment, reimagined roles, re-energized growth…it all starts with people, organizational transparency, experimentation, information sharing, empowerment, virtual team designs, employee engagement — all the great things that flow from moving from the traditional hierarchically based top down monolithic view of your organizational architecture, to alternative, more inclusive and more empowering views of who is on the team, where they are, what capabilities they have to offer, and how best to mobilize them.

Reimagine_RolesWhat does your org chart look like when you put the CEO at the bottom of the pyramid, and move out from there to find the managers, and select the team members that are going to work in concert to incubate and drive your innovation agenda? When you can reimagine roles and seamlessly move people from your team with unique skills to fill them?

That all starts with simple org charts that your teams can create and share – from the SWAT Team at Region 5 to the SWOT team at Store 115.

Creating different organizational designs using Organimi org charts is a simple, easy and free way to get more people inside, around and outside your organizations engaged in the important work of bringing innovation and revenue generation front and center.

We hope you find us, enjoy what you see, and start making Organimi one of the tools in your innovation toolkit to drive continuous improvement and better engagement across your organization.

We can’t guarantee there won’t be some spills from time to time, but with Organimi it is easy to identify who should be on the clean up crew….at Tesco and everywhere else.

As always, thanks for reading.