HR's organizational value is a favorite topic of debate. While some HR departments are fully integrated into their business's strategy, others are still typing away on policies and procedures. I recently read this article from Harvard Business Review and was enamored with the concept of organizational drag. More importantly, how HR can play a vital role in reducing time-based losses when it comes to operating models, processes, and systems.

In a nutshell, organizational drag is the byproduct of poor organizational design. It usually starts as a small experience of friction within a system and snowballs to hinder a company's progress. If not addressed, this chronic friction stifles employee productivity and creates process bottlenecks. It's become such an issue that "the average company loses 21 percent of its productivity to time-wasting interactions," says Eric Garton, author and partner at Bain & Company.

With the myriad of different directions this could go, I decided to reach out to Jim Haudan, CEO and co-founder of Root Inc. and a fellow contributor, to get his take on the matter. (Root Inc. specializes in people strategy and execution.)

Haudan suggested that before you go reshaping org charts, revamping procedures, or even worse, implementing another policy, stop and declutter your organization. Unfortunately, many businesses don't and inadvertently become organizational hoarders -- collectors of initiatives and strategies. Healthy systems must be flushed every once in a while. If not, allowing legacy structures to hang around causes confusion and resistance to change. The best case scenario, you develop a bad case of organizational drag.

Let's take a look at three of Haudan's strategies to help declutter your organization.

1. Have grand closings as opposed to grand openings

Stopping is harder than starting. As a result, new systems are implemented while the old runs in the background. Unless you turn them off, the old ways of doing things will always linger. Go-live dates should also be hard-stop dates.

2. Enforce the new

People are creatures of habit. Unless you fully commit to the new strategy, they'll revert to what they know. Mitigate this risk by providing ample training, communicating the size of the prize, and addressing their concerns early on in the implementation process. (It's much easier to adopt something that you helped create.)

3. Prune the tree

Inefficient procedures can be the results of years' worth of tweaks, workarounds, and inadequate training. Imagine an organizational game of telephone. Every once in a while, we have to unpack our morphed systems and ensure they're not full of unnecessary steps.

Before you tackle organizational drag by reinventing your people operations, focus first on decluttering your organization. That process that you think is so inefficient could just need a good cleaning and an analysis of the ancillary systems that support them.

Published on: Jun 7, 2017