By Organization Charting

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Prepare a current organization chart. Show all functions. List the leader’s name

in each function, if the organization is sufficiently small to make that possible.

Then list the number of people assigned to carry out the function. Pose these

questions: (1) ‘‘What does this function uniquely contribute to the organization’s

mission?’’ and (2) ‘‘Could this function operate effectively if the leader

were gone?’’

The answer to the first question provides valuable clues about organizational

processes. It should be expressed in terms of the inputs, transformational

processes, and outputs of that function relative to the organization’s

work. That tells why the function is important—and what it does to accomplish

the results desired from it.

The answer to the second question yields clues about key positions. If the

answer is no, then the next question to ask is, ‘‘Why is that leader so valuable?

What is it that makes him or her important—and potentially tough to replace?

Does he or she possess specialized expertise or carry out specialized work

duties?’’ (If so, then it is a key position.) ‘‘Do the staff members collectively

assigned to that function lack the ability to achieve results in the absence of a

leader?’’ (If so, then a potential replacement need has been identified that

should be shored up.)

If the answer is yes, then ask, ‘‘Why is the function able to operate without

the leader? Are others particularly key to its operation?’’ If that is the case, then

the leader does not occupy a key position, but one or more workers do.

If this activity is carried to its natural conclusion, key positions should be

easily identified on the organization chart. Each key position is tied to a critically

important organizational function, result, or work process. A vacancy in

any key position will represent a hole, a gap between an organizational requirement

and the human talent needed to meet that requirement.