Schlagwort-Archive: TAR

Unnecessary loss of friction in the process

Business procedures, such as the development of new services, the procurement of material, the production of goods or the distribution of commodities, are improved through the active Business Process Management (BPM). For this purpose, the procedures are described and weaknesses are visualized in order to optimize the sequence of activities so that only the right thing is done right, e.g.

  • better involved customers,
  • more reliable delivery,
  • accelerated turnaround time,
  • automated tasks
  • minimized time and costs,
  • increased quality,
  • and so on.

The desired effects can not be accomplished, if existing approaches and demands get in the way of real progress. This leads to losses of friction that do not disappear with the designing of processes.

Often these hurdles are homemade. A good example of impeding attitudes is the way of dealing with tasks, authority and responsibility.

  • Tasks without authority and responsibility
    The actual work is performed as a task. Usually something is created, processed, finished or executed – e.g. building a prototype, polishing a surface, assembling a device, washing a car. In order to be able to perform the task, the performers need appropriate knowledge and skills.
    However, if they lack the appropriate authority and responsibility for the results, then the fulfillment will be poor.
  • Authority without tasks and responsibility
    The authority describes the rights that somebody has. This includes the permissions to perform or direct something – e.g. to use a certain machine for manufacturing or to give instructions to the employees. The corresponding permissions must be known by all involved people.
    If someone has sufficient authorities, but no task or responsibility, the competence loses its effect.
  • Responsibility without task and authority
    Responsibility describes the commitments that you make. This can be direct responsibility or shared responsibility – direct responsibility refers to one’s own actions and the activities of directly assigned employees; the shared responsibility arises, if one has indirect influence on occurrences as part of a team (in the sense of cling together, swing together).
    Individuals like to adorn themselves with the glow of responsibility – especially, if it does not result in any consequences, because there are no tasks associated or special permissions required.

In simple words: Tasks, authority and responsibility should ALWAYS be in one hand for the sake of adequate results. It makes no sense to assign someone to a task without the necessary authorities for the fulfillment and without the responsibility for the result. Good examples are the Japanese line workers, who perform subtasks in making a car.  They have the right and duty to immediately stop the line, if they find a mistake. This allows the earliest possible correction of the flaw. That way they avoid the accumulation of unnecessary rework. At the same time, costly decision-making processes are avoided, which would burden the process.

Bottom line: The design of processes often begins with the application of IT, in the hope that this can improve the process. However, often old rules and roles are retained. As a result, for example, task, authority and responsibility remain in different hands. Even, if it is faster and you only have to click once to fulfill your responsibilities or to allow the performers to do their job. The largest effect is achieved by transferring the task, authority and responsibility to the people, who fulfill the task. They know what to do, can decide how to do it, and strive for the required quality of the result. That way, the losses of friction in a process are minimized.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts

The view on the world is determined by the tools and our position that we use to look at the reality. The telescope allows us the glance into the distance. The small things become visible through the microscope. We learned dealing with different levels of details, by always specifying the range and the resolution of our scope. We call the entire area the whole. The interconnected elements that are part of it are again systems that consist of elements, and so on. Each level has separate characteristics plus the characteristics that result from interaction within the whole. Therefore we speak of: The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

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A system is an abstract term for a wholeness that bundles parts and relations within one “object” that functions delimited from the environment. In order to use a system consciously, it is necessary to describe it and recognize its patterns. Some systems evolved from natural conditions. Examples are the solar system, animals and humans, a forest or a lake, the brain, the immune system, etc. Other systems were created by people. Examples are machines, vehicles, thermostats, software, hardware, economic systems, juridical systems, religions, politics, products, services, etc. These lists can be extended at will.

Let’s look at the two following examples: the world and the enterprise.

  • World
    • Our conception of the world became more and more concrete – from the first map, to the globe, to Google Street View.
    • You are sitting probably somewhere outside or in a room (e.g. an office, a café, a train compartment). Characteristics are thereby the inventory, the infrastructure, the size etc.
    • The room is in a complex (e.g. a house, an office building or a train). Characteristics are the number of floors, the number of buildings and the entrances.
    • The apartment is in a city (e.g. a mega city, a town or a village). Characteristics are the number of inhabitants, the traffic connections and the economic power.
    • The city is in a country (e.g. Germany, the USA, Brazil or Japan). Characteristics are the Gross Domestic Product, the Gross National Happiness and political stability.
    • The country is on a continent (e.g. America, Europe or Asia). Characteristics are the economic zones, the climate zones and the population density.
  • Enterprise
    • In the enterprise on each level tasks, authority and responsibility (TAR) are assigned that should have as few overlaps as possible.
    • The position that an employee occupies, is the finest level from business perspective (e.g. the doorman, the housekeepers, the specialists, the managers, and the executive committee). Characteristics are additionally to the TARs the commitment, the experience and the skills.
    • The positions are bundled in teams that follow functions or procedures (e.g. the development of exterior mirrors, the receipt of invoice). Characteristics are additionally to the TAR the group dynamics, the cohesion and the productivity.
    • Departments consist of teams (e.g. the computer-aided design, the accounting, and the overseas logistics). Characteristics are additionally to the TARs the power structures, the internal competition and the legacies.
    • The departments are assigned to functions (e.g. Research & Development, Finance & Controlling, and Logistics). Characteristics are additionally to the TARs the influence, the innovativeness and the autarky.
    • The functional areas belong to enterprises (e.g. aircraft manufacturers, software houses, shipping companies). Characteristics are additionally to the TARs the industry sector, the business form and the revenue.

The individual levels result in a sum of characteristics for the overall system that is larger than the sum of the individual levels.

There is not that perspective in the classical silo thinking. The synergetic characteristics of the superordinate levels are not perceived by the lower levels. At the same time in the silos a lot of energy is wasted for internal competitions that do not create a value-add for the whole.

From the systemic point of view the focus is on the whole – on the advantages that result from the interaction of all elements. The following aspects help opening these sources of earnings.

  • Describe your system. Which elements are available and in which relation do they stand to each other? Thus, you create clarity for genuine improvements for the whole.
  • Respectively assign the tasks, the authority and the responsibility. Thus, you create autarkic subsystems that act independently and therefore avoid double work and friction losses.
  • Observe continuously your system concerning upcoming patterns. It allows adapting promptly to anomalies with relatively small expenditure.
  • The holistic view guarantees that you design your procedures in such a way that the individual activities create a value-add for the whole. They regulate in such a way that the individual parts complement each other and do not mutually push efforts and costs around.
  • The crucial factor of the system is the meaning that the data and the information convey. Thus you provide the involved ones the chance of doing the right thing right.

Bottom line: The specification of the system improves its control. Each system consists of parts that can be likewise described as system. At the same time each system is a component of a superordinate one. With the view of the respective whole, the elements and relations can be specified. The activities beyond the borders of the whole only become interesting if they touch the own whole. That way the tasks, authority and responsibilities can be delimited and the profit for the whole can be ensured. Activities that lie outside of these borders are represented and performed by other people.

The plus of complementary project members

The assignment of job positions in a project is a crucial moment in the early phase of temporary, nonrecurring activities. Ideally the best employees are envisaged for the task. Although this is always a good approach, they are often not available. In this case, it is incumbent on the project managers to set up the best possible work group. They determine with the variety of the characters the fitness of the team. The project managers arrange the team based on the required roles and the attitudes of the available employees. The roles consist of the concrete tasks, authorities and the respective responsibility. Additionally, the existing knowledge and the abilities are compared with the necessities and respectively adjusted to each other. The team that exploits the plus of complementary project members will be the strongest.


Complementary project teams are set up in a way that as many as possible, supplementing activities and abilities are available. The following hints support the setting up of temporary, multilayered work teams.

  • Skillful distribution of the tasks
    The overview of the work packages consists of the planned tasks for guiding or executing core or support processes. They should describe briefly the entire activity without overlaps. Two to three sentences are sufficient to summarize the task comprehensibly without getting lost in unnecessary details. Double work becomes visible by comparing the activities. It will be dissolved through clear assignments to work packages.
  • Non-overlapping authority
    The rights that a task require, in order to timely and completely be attainable, should be eventually clearly assigned. This includes the right to accomplish certain activities as well as the authorities to give instructions to others, to define guidelines as well as to control the fulfillment of the tasks. The format for the authorization can be specified more or less bureaucratically.
  • Clear responsibilities
    The duties that exist for a task, not only pertain to the acts, but also to the outcomes and consequences of an activity. Since conflicts are minimized with clear decision procedures, the competencies should be assigned as clearly as possible. On the one hand it concerns the sole responsibility for the own activities, but also for the doing of the directly assigned employees. On the other hand joint responsibility exists for decisions that are made in the management team and which one must pay for as being part of the team. The more consistent the obligations are the fewer friction losses result from contradictory duties.
  • Additional abilities
    The abilities that are required for a role consist of the four areas business, method, social and system skills (see Since the skills are naturally distributed with different degrees of detail on the entire field of knowledge, you reach through a smart combination to set up a team on the broadest possible base (see The know-how should be evenly distributed on specialist knowledge and overarching know-how.

The project leaders need a well mixed team that covers as many requirements as possible. The remaining rest must take place via Learning on the job. A monotonous team, in which all employees have very similar characteristics, is less counterproductive, since the missing ones endanger the project thereby. If for example all employees fulfill detail tasks, the integrating task managers are missing, who overlook the overall view. Or in reverse, if all employees survey the project, there is nothing to integrate, since nobody produces something.

Bottom line: The project leaders already have a large influence on the positive outcome of the project with the selection of the project members. They can ensure that the necessary roles are completely available and covered without overlaps. Beyond that, they determine to what extent the employees complement each other by assigning different personalities to the project. If the project leaders do not create a positive tension in the team, it loses quickly their energy and resilience. With complementary teams the project leaders use the advantages of variety and the personal oppositeness for the sake of the project.

Penniless managers are worth nothing

After the ghost of planned economy collapsed, large-scale enterprises evolve to huge centralistic administrative bodies. After years of lean management, culture, hierarchies rigidify, which undermine their intended claim for a flat structure with the subordination of equal levels. The return to functional organizations covers the inability to base the organization on processes. The cross charging of deliverables create an internal market in which specific amounts are negotiated and paid with the transfer of budgets – wooden nickels from the left to the right pocket. The degree of bureaucratization can be seen via the necessary reports and guidelines. More and more employees serve an overhead of project, planning and budget reports. At the same time, the guidelines evolve to one entanglement of regulations that cannot be conveyed or obeyed anymore. The crucial error is however the new approach to realize savings, namely to decide right at the top any outward cash flow. Yet it is forgotten that leaders are worth nothing without financial means.


What do doers need in order to fulfill their tasks?

  • Apart from the personal characteristics that constitute leaders, like integrity, decisiveness and customer focus, the following tasks should be fulfilled: Self-management, conception, coordination, communication and cooperation.
  • The tasks, authority and responsibility specify the scope of action. The tasks describe the activities that are to be mastered. The authority determines the decision, directive and action powers. The responsibility obligates the superior on the decided approach and the goals. On this basis the personal evaluation and remuneration are done.
  • The allocation of a cost center and the equipment with sufficient budget is an important part of the authority. Like the fuel tank of a car, the available funds limit the scope that a decision maker can cover. Penniless leaders have actually no chance to contribute value-adding results.
  • Bosses as entrepreneurs in the enterprise need a comprehensible business model. Within the business idea, the target audiences, the deliverable portfolio and the clearly outlined scopes are specified.
  • An important function of the executive is the indication towards a positive future and the measures for reaching it. The strategy should provide the employees a seizable framework for the realization.

As soon as these components are missing, the leaders are worth nothing and it remains noting else than eliminating these positions.

Bottom line: The leadership tasks require a large spectrum of abilities, in order to be able to perform a task meaningfully. However, as soon as the leader is guided on a short leash, without budget, even the best characteristics go pop, because penniless managers are worth anything.