A Confluence Model for Building Activity-Centered Organizations

December 10, 2008 at 8:03 am Leave a comment

stuart-meyer2The princple of this model is rooted in moving organizations from being department-driven to being activity-driven.  Why is this important to associations?  The philosophy and psychology of such an approach is rooted in the belief that when people begin to think of initiatives being centered around an activity rather than another department, the goal becomes shared and people become more invested in the outcome.

This is a silo-busting model which sheds “turf” in exchange for shared ownership, balanced collaboration and responsibility.  Greater clarity and transparency helps to bring people together on the same frequency.  In other words, the goal is to move groups of people from thinking “that’s not my problem” to a sense of “this is our shared problem”. 

Think “confluence” in terms of “flowing into” a central place (multi-lateral) rather than “flowing from” (uni-lateral) a specific area.  The focus is on the activity to be completed or problem to be solved, rather than who “owns” the issue.  

I actually learned this principle while working in politics.  The magnitude of selfless teamwork in political campaigns always amazed me.  My own analytical viewpoint is that campaigns bring staff resources together because the work is cenetered around one central activity… the election of a candidate.  However, I was always equally amazed by the vindictive hell and fury that breaks lose once a candidate wins as previous teammates begin to scramble for their own plot of political “real estate”.

What is the source of this fragile volatility?  I believe the answer is the same in both political adminstrations as it is in the dynamics of any organization… the humanistic flaw of envy.  For whatever reason, real or imagined, envy is the great initiating force for overt and covert human grudge matches.  Referencing a previous posting, it’s the “Pfactor” (the people factor).  We’re all human and have our share of flaws and insecurities.

So how do you overcome envy?  You must focus on balancing the attention on the important and uniquely essential contribution of each person in the ultimate success of the endeavor.  As a leader, to succeed in maintaining this level of morale and security in your team is extraordinarily difficult if you do what so many organizations do and that is to delegate the control and ownership of an initiative to specific department which creates the air of a “master/servant” realtionship.  Nobody wants to be a servant to his/her peers… that’s where the “it’s not my problem” mentality kicks in. 

Thus, the easier path to fostering a confluence of team is to shift the structure of activites from being  around a particular department to residing around the activity itself, with each person’s contribution flowing into development, execution, completion and success.  That way, not only is success shared, but so too is failure.  Think of the possibilities.

What’s your next step toward this model?  Look at your strategic plan and analyze how initiatives are aligned with staff… does there appear to be “domains”, “areas”, “primary” people, “categories” of staff or  “divide and conquer” language?  Embracing project management is another way to begin fostering a new mentality in terms of activity-centered alignment.  Create management teams of key staff leaders who all have an equitable seat at the table from activity conception to completion. 

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that every task is completed by committee, but rather the overall construct of activities are built around the essential contributions of each component with the organization as a whole being the primary owner and stakeholder of the activity.  I am in the process of developing a visual model for this concept which I will share once completed.  In the meantime, I will leave  you to ponder the possibilities.  SM 



Entry filed under: Human Imperfection, Managing Change, Organizational Management, people. Tags: , , , , .

Accelerated Learning Through Passive Mentoring Opportunities Tips for Overcoming Leadership Ambiguity in Associations

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to Association 2020 and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 22 other followers

%d bloggers like this: