Sunday, February 9, 2014

Junk Drawers in Your Organization

A while back I wrote about the pleasure of teamwork.  I got to thinking about that again today.

In that post, I spoke about a team that didn’t have a purpose.  That team handled items not handled by the other teams. 

think it’s a common thing that most households have a junk drawer or two.  Or maybe a junk area.  I have to confess, I believe some people have junk rooms, and maybe even have a garage so full of junk that they can’t even use it to protect one of their most expensive purchases, their car.

These junk areas that people have seemed to have a parallel with this team I spoke of.  It’s the place where you put stuff that you don’t know where else it goes.  Or you don’t have time to organize.

Does your company have an "Operations" department?  I tried looking up definitions of an operations department and it said “See Back Office”.  So ok, I did.  And what did it say?  That bit of the organization not visible to the public.  Great.

It’s in back.  Out of sight.  You don’t want to know how the sausage is made.  It’s the junk that kinda makes stuff work.  It’s what’s left when you take away Marketing, R&D, IT, Compliance, Legal, etc.

And how is it organized?  Who knows?  It’s a junk drawer.  Could be a proxy for Corporate Accounting, Tax, Internal Product management.  “Operations” as a word means nothing.  It’s a container for real functional business units.  It's how the company "operates" behind the scenes.

Over time, people can become junk drawers, too, if they don’t have personal goals to do otherwise.  Are there people in your organization that other people have transitioned things to over time?  Maybe they inherited them because they were there a long time and had the knowledge to take them on.  Or maybe the organization didn't have time to think of where the responsibility should truly lie, and through the transition items into the junk drawer.

What happens when the junk drawer employee leaves?  Pass it on?  Create another junk drawer?

I’m really not bagging on the idea of junk drawers in an organization.  Practically, it’s difficult to fully categorize every last thing in any system.  There will always be things that don’t have critical mass to require attention from an entire team.

What I'm saying is that if you have to have a junk area, keep it small and manageable.  Also, spend some time looking for them periodically.  They get big when you're not looking.

No comments:

Post a Comment