HSBC’s announcement about shedding jobs yesterday made me start to think again about why companies don’t perform (although it now looks as if HSBC wants to exit from UK and European regulation).

What is reorganisation all about? It is about new lines of reporting, it is about new responsibilities and new job roles. Often it is also about reducing headcount and costs too. It is a time of uncertainty for people inside, so good people leave the organisation and the talent pool gets depleted.

But what happens to customer service in all this? Who is still thinking and looking after the customer if people are all internally focused and worried about protecting their positions and jobs? And who is thinking about possible new opportunities and growth? The answer is that this activity gets forgotten and so reorganisations are rarely as successful as one would like.

When you focus internally, you stop looking externally, and that is when an organisation or business is at its most vulnerable. So if all your organisation can do is reorganise, then it is truly time to worry!

Performance actually comes from your processes, which is a much better way of thinking about the organisation: starting from the customers’ perspective and then truly aligning activity to deliver. If you do that and mean it, the reporting structure becomes just an administrative framework. I remember helping Schering Health Care in the UK redesign their performance measurement systems ten years ago and being faced with a Head Office designed reorganisation when we were just through the process. However, in this case we had done the design using a “process up” rather than a “top down” approach. The result was that the reorganisation had absolutely no impact on our goals and measures.

So stop throwing your money away and start focusing on what really matters.

Mike Bourne

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