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Management article
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Reference no. 96505
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 1996

Abstract

Thousands of businesses have reengineered work to focus employees on processes that clearly provide value to customers. They have done away with their functional silos and created process-complete departments, each able to perform all the cross-functional tasks required to meet customers'' needs. Although many of those efforts have paid off in the form of lower costs, shorter cycle times, and greater customer satisfaction, many others have resulted in disappointment. What went wrong? In a study of U.S. electronics manufacturers, the authors found that process-complete departments had faster cycle times than functional departments only when their managers had used one or more of four ways to cultivate collective responsibility: structuring jobs with overlapping responsibilities, basing rewards on unit performance, laying out the work area so that people can see one another''s work, and designing procedures so that employees with different jobs are better able to collaborate.

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Abstract

Thousands of businesses have reengineered work to focus employees on processes that clearly provide value to customers. They have done away with their functional silos and created process-complete departments, each able to perform all the cross-functional tasks required to meet customers'' needs. Although many of those efforts have paid off in the form of lower costs, shorter cycle times, and greater customer satisfaction, many others have resulted in disappointment. What went wrong? In a study of U.S. electronics manufacturers, the authors found that process-complete departments had faster cycle times than functional departments only when their managers had used one or more of four ways to cultivate collective responsibility: structuring jobs with overlapping responsibilities, basing rewards on unit performance, laying out the work area so that people can see one another''s work, and designing procedures so that employees with different jobs are better able to collaborate.

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