Reinvent the Wheel to Simplify Your Organizational Structure

By: Laura Lofthouse, Senior Vice President, Media Delivery Team, Valassis
Published Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Reinvent the Wheel to Simplify Your Organizational Structure

When considering an optimal organizational structure, there are pros and cons to the traditional models – functional; divisional; matrix – the benefits of each depend upon your company’s goals, product mix, size and geographic dispersion. With a standard organizational chart, by going a level deeper into structure, an observer generates perceptions (both good and bad) about a company – it is large; it is flat; teams are small; there is growth opportunity, etc. Most organizational charts are hierarchical with layers of lines and boxes. Instead, consider a fresh approach to an organizational configuration – a simple wheel. Here’s how it might look:

The Hub

The hub represents the organization’s vision, purpose and goals. It is the common center for all of the spokes and symbolizes the strategies, guidance and direction that connect the moving parts. Every spoke has visibility to, and impacts, the hub – and vice-versa. The hub drives productivity and efficiency so all parts move in tandem and are focused on the same outcome.

The Spokes

The spokes are the people. But which people are parts of which spoke? How many spokes should there be? Consider these points:

  • Customer satisfaction: What is your vision for how you wish to interact with customers?
  • Impact on business processes: Does work flow smoothly or is there duplication of effort?
  • Communication effectiveness: Do the right people have the right information to be productive and efficient?
  • Ability to make decisions: Are there too many approval levels or not enough checks and balances to drive consistency?
  • Success measures: What does success look like and how should it be measured? What will drive desired behavior and accountability?

With a large team that services over 14,000 clients, we determined our spokes should be client focused. But, having 14,000 spokes is unrealistic. Our clients are, however, easily classifiable by vertical – or industry. By aligning our support teams by client vertical we have seen numerous benefits:

  • The client has an improved experience. The strategies and insights, messaging and support they receive are consistent, faster and cohesive.
  • Our team is collectively aligned to their clients’ goals. Associates are better educated and specialized which helps them feel proud of their ability to offer their client vertical unique, valuable insights and navigate alternatives.
  • Employees work as a team. They focus on the client, share ideas and facilitate open communication, yet are still being driven by the hub, or company’s overarching goals. There is balance.

The Tire

The tire represents the processes, technology, policies and infrastructure that keep the spokes aligned. It provides the support that keeps the internal parts moving forward, allowing the wheel to roll smoothly and make forward progress.

From an employee perspective, the thought of being part of a wheel versus a hierarchical chart also just feels good. It symbolizes cohesion; being a part of a whole; connectedness and forward momentum – moving toward the future.

Is a wheel right for you? In a competitive market where demands are quickly changing, a wheel that keeps your team moving in the right direction may just be the answer.