work with staff departments such as Finance, IT, Procurement, HR
and others to help make them more effective both internally and
in serving the firm at large.
There is a critical distinction between a staff unit doing great
work on behalf of the business and being a great staff department.
That skillset, of superb execution on behalf of the business is,
of course, an essential starting point. However, superb staff execution
is simply not enough. Being a superb staff department requires far
more, in terms of how it is organized, how it is managed, and how
it is led. It requires thoughtful, ongoing attention to how work
is allocated, how people are recruited and developed, and how people
view and deliver their work.
|Examples of the
staff functions with which we work:
Strategic Planning/ M & A
All of these elements, when combined with doing great work, can
lift the staff department into a category that helps differentiate
the company overall, and measurably contribute to that entity’s
ability to generate a sustainable competitive advantage.
Corporate and Staff Department Advisory Examples
Here are some specific examples of our work in this area:
- Structuring and facilitating a leadership offsite for the internal
audit function of one of the world’s largest financial services
firms. Their big issue was how to strike a balance between programmed,
planned strategic and operational goals and the requisite “fire-fighting.”
We found a way to address the issue.
- Developing an overall skillset and architecture for the top
200 HR directors of a global 50 company. We focused on the ancillary
skills sought by the leaders of the SBUs, such as:
- Business and financial acumen
- Strategic thinking
- Formulating and articulating persuasive business cases
- Consultative skills
While a series of two-day programs is a central part of the effort,
it also includes follow-up events and on-line tools.
- Creating high-impact one-day sessions for IT leaders on building
the skills to be an internal trusted advisor to the business units
of this global organization of 50,000+ employees.
- Serving as the resident advisor and facilitator to the Senior
Leadership Team (SLT) of a $3.2 billion procurement function.
The engagement has included six meetings per year, along with
regular and irregular sessions with the function head and various
SLT members on issues of organizational design and individual
Thought Leadership and Experience
Our thought leadership in the area of staff functions includes
an upcoming book on how great staff departments support great companies.
In 1998 we wrote a piece for the Harvard Business Review
with the somewhat provocative title "Why
Doesn't This HR Department Get Any Respect?" That fictionalized
case outlined the challenges faced by a new head of HR in trying
to expand the role of the human resources department from being
purely administrative to having significant input in recruiting,
development, and strategic planning.
Truth be told, the piece didn’t need to target HR in the
title. It could have been any staff department
Our experience isn’t just academic. We’ve actually
held jobs and led functions in areas such as procurement and HR.