Objective Mathematical Frameworks for Organisation Development (OD) and HR

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

Technology and Applications already coined the "UBER" of OD and HR by clients

The measurability and objectivity of OD and HR have always been contentious. While various other organisational aspects, e.g. finance and engineering, can be measured and manipulated for optimal value, the same is not always true for OD and HR.

KontextIt, through continuous research, has developed what is probably the first objectively measurable OD and HR approach addressing the core of Organisation Effectiveness, Efficiency and Risk. The design requirements of, or vulnerabilities in the appropriateness, quality and strength of key organisational issues, can be determined and expressed in objective numerical numbers and percentages for easy compare and contrast evaluation. With one glance the Executive, Board, OD, HR and Change teams are able to see where the actual problems are that impact the organisation’s ability to deliver on its mandate and bottom-line results.

Already referred to as the "UBER" of OD and HR, the suite of technologies and applications put the power for change and optimization back into the hands of the organisation and its people.

Background to the development of the Mathematical Model and the Objective Delivery-Fitness Dashboard

Research information was gathered from work done over 27 years on 5 continents, multiple organisations, with application of various organisational models and the introduction of applied mathematics. This resulted in the development of a reliable framework of work where the intent and current quality of work and people can mathematically be measurement and expressed. In the process the focus has radically moved away from the input-based organisation towards a clear delivery-based organisation. Delivery-based does not necessarily equate what is sometimes referred to as output-based. Delivery-based definition is e.g. Profitable Business, while “having a Business Plan in place” is often seen as an output; similar to Business Growth being a deliverable with “having a Strategic Plan in place” often seen as an output. The latter, in both cases, clearly being input activities in the process towards a Profitable Business or Business Growth. Current input based organisations can however still be evaluated on the mathematical model.

This delivery-based work design approach and its objective mathematics can determine an organisation’s required design upfront and/or evaluate its current design to ensure the organisation’s relevance and appropriateness in strategy, setup and design.

The mathematical and delivery-based approach comes at a significantly reduced cost and demonstrated value when compared to traditional large scale change projects. As a result of making things visible through numbers, it enables a process of joint decision-making regarding interventions. It also utilizes and builds on the internal strength of companies resulting in further cost containment due to joint process, joint controls and company accountability in affecting actual value delivery.

Continuous research and development of the frameworks and the supportive mathematics have resulted in a number of applications of which the Organisation Delivery-Fitness Dashboard is but one of a suite of applications.

The Organisation delivery Fitness Dashboard application

The Dashboard integrates a number of applications to provide a one page, critical view of the status of health of the organisation. The detail, in the background, facilitates the immediate recognition of issues to address that will enable the organisation to deliver optimally. This dashboard has, as a result of its ability to define issues, also become a vehicle to track the impact and relevance of change.

The Dashboard emerged from application of the mathematical model in quantifying the current status of the organisation and comparing it to the required appropriateness. In a one page summary the company can get a view of the Status of Health (appropriateness, strength and quality) of a company’s “hardware” in relation to e.g.:

  • Strategy,

  • Roles and Structure,

  • Teams,

  • People.

These processes, when applied in a cascaded approach throughout the organisation, assist in identifying performance and delivery risks in relation to:

  • The pitch appropriateness, strength and quality of strategy and operational plans;

  • Structural and role design appropriateness and alignment with strategy, as well as:

  1. Structural design strength and quality;

  2. Role delivery strength and quality;

  3. Appropriateness of role relationships (reporting structure) with clear indicators of overlaps/underlaps, the magnitude thereof, in reporting relationships.

  • Team alignment (executive to operating teams) and

  • People alignment to their respective role delivery accountabilities.

This dashboard allows for immediate identification of areas of performance and delivery risk and the calculation of the degree of seriousness in deviation, as expressed in numerical numbers and percentage risk. The detail supporting this dashboard also demonstrate where the problems are and already suggests possible solutions. Targeted and appropriate interventions can then be developed to remove these risks, or leverage strengths, to enable optimal organisational value delivery.

This targeted approach, in addition to a delivery-based approach, builds on the philosophy that organisations internally have people with the appropriate knowledge and skill to make organisations successful. This approach assists in focusing internal capacity and strength on the issues of importance. This focus ensures the optimal shaping and managing of performance and delivery risks to affect value delivery. When people are focused on what needs to be delivered, understand and apply their own full scope of influence and context in their roles towards that delivery, the organisation achieves its intent and value delivery objectives.

The format of the Dashboard can be adapted to suite the organisation’s unique setup, character and style. The measurements are done against a global standard of work and work in context.

Mathematical Application to Strategy

Each and every individual strategic objective, as well as the comprehensive whole, can be mathematically measured, against a global framework, for its relevance, strength and quality. These strategies can then again be mathematically measured against competitor/market/industry trends or requirements, also measured against the global framework, to determine the relevance, strength and quality of the company’s strategic drivers. The percentage deviation, from the required, then demonstrates the severity of risk this deviation poses to the organisation, be it no risk, moderate, or severe risk. This clarity around risk enables focused corrective action to restore and strengthen company strategy to what it should be. Moderate to severe risks can be redefined without interfering with the no-risk areas. What is absent from the strategy and need to be there, can also be defined. If these deviations, or absences, are not addressed, it will inevitably result in the devaluing of company intent as well as its actual value delivery and effectiveness. Mathematical measurement clearly differentiates what needs be done to increase effectiveness and optimal value delivery.

Mathematical Application to structure

Mathematical objective measurement of:

  • Vertical management reporting structure;

  • Horizontal role/team structure, e.g. Executive team, Business teams, Operations Teams;

  • Actual job structure (job design) and grading;

  • Horizontal content and vertical context job grading differentiation.

to determine relevance, strength, quality and the alignment with strategic as well as operational intent, objectives and effectiveness.

  • Vertical Management: The tolerable distance between vertical reporting roles, in mathematical terms, have been calculated against a global framework and norms. This prevents overlaps or gaps that could interfere with organisational effectiveness. This enables optimally designed, mathematically validated, vertical structures that allow for full accountability, employee engagement and optimal value delivery.

  • Horizontal Team/Role Structure: Mathematically validated appropriateness, strength and quality of team design compared to strategic and operational imperatives. Deviations indicate the level of risk that, if not corrected, will result in non-delivery of strategy, operational objectives and targets.

  • Job Structure (Job/Role design): Mathematically validated appropriateness, strength and quality of role design, as well as determining the degree of role internal consistency. This enables the shaping or redesign of roles for optimal value delivery. Mathematical measurement clearly demonstrate in percentages:

  1. Relevance – how aligned is the role to delivery requirements;

  2. Internal consistency - delivery that belongs, does not belong, should or should not belong in a role;

  • Horizontal Content and Vertical Context Job Grading: Measuring the delivery field on more than one axis to differentiate value contribution between roles in companies.

Mathematical Application to Broader HR

Mathematical measurement in relation to:

  • Delivery based Job Grading;

  • Succession Management;

  • Career Management and Coaching;

  • Manpower planning;

  • Recruitment and placement.

All the above areas can be objectively mathematically measured to enable objective alignment, planning and management, thereby ensuring optimal value delivery success of the company. Room for error in subjective judgement is eliminated through the mathematical processes that support objective decision-making. The magnitude of risk can be quantified in percentage risk to the company, thereby assisting management to appreciate the risk severity to delivery and achievement of bottom-line results.

Bringing mathematical measurement to organisational qualities has opened the field to understand and manage a substantial number of previously subjective processes more effectively. With this knowledge organisations can take charge of affecting required changes themselves, thereby becoming self-sustainable in bringing about the changes required. Measurements of the company are done against global norms, competitor trends, as well as against itself. Responding appropriately ensures the company remains relevant, effective and sustainable in achieving its strategic intent, operational and strategic objectives as well as its value delivery.

Practical Examples of Applications

Practical application example of the high-end Fitness Dashboard mathematics

Dashboard Interpretation:

Executive Level

  • Strategy, green and at a -6% variance still within acceptable limits.

  • There are problems with the design of the Executive Roles (Horizontal Design) that will negatively impact the achievement of strategy if not addressed. (-21% red). The current role design is a weakness in the executive setup and eventual delivery value of the executive team as a whole, as well as specific executive members in particular. Roles will have to be re-designed to ensure appropriate value delivery at executive level. The Excel Dashboard Workbook highlights the specific roles that results in the negative variance. Individual role detail can be investigated to determine reasons for inappropriate design to take necessary steps for redesign and change.

  • Executive Vertical Design, i.e. the combined 2 or 3 layers that constitute the Senior Management layer, is within acceptable limits.

  • At executive level there is some risk, albeit moderate risk, in terms of the Executive team’s Contextual Insight Strength in steering the company forward. The Excel Dashboard Workbook gives detail on each individual and also highlights where the risks are to the overall strength of contribution of the team, as well as specific optimal role contributions.

Operations Level

  • Visible on the Dashboard is the Operational Plan’s own internal consistency (-9%). In this regard the plan is somewhat below what it should be and therefore posing a moderate risk to the achievement of the Operational Plan.