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The IEM model begins with the heart of any organization: the individual. Individuals operate in different domains that are subject to complex interactions. To operate effectively in these domains, an individual requires certain skills. Communication skills, both oral and written, are fundamentally important in dealing with others in an organization. These skills are especially important in a team environment. In addition, the values that an indi­vidual brings to an organization will define his or her behavior within that organization. The importance of an individual's values cannot be overemphasized. If forced to select between an individual who has the requisite skill set for a job or the right values, the person with the right values would clearly be the choice. Skills can be acquired. Values are difficult to acquire or change.

No single person can process all of the information and acquire all of the knowledge required to make every deci­sion in their organization. No one can do it alone. The use of a team, as opposed to an individual, often significantly improves the quality of the decision being made. Teams consider a broader range of strategies and view issues from a more balanced perspective.
How important are teams to today's organizations? Con­sider the following:
• Xerox team-based plants are 30 percent more produc­tive than their other plants.
• Procter and Gamble gets 30 to 40 percent higher productivity at its team-based plants.
• GM plants that use team-based manufacturing sys­tems have demonstrated 20 to 40 percent productivity gains.

[Orsburn, J.D., et Al., Self-Directed Work Teams, Homewood, IL: Business One Irwin, 1990.]


Knowing how to operate as part of a team, either as a member or a leader, is critical in today's organizations. Getting others to work together to bring out the best of everyone in the group is a very valuable skill. We often find ourselves mired down in the politics and internal maneu­vering of the organization and making decisions that are not necessarily in the best interest of the organization itself. We frequently find it easier to find reasons why we cannot change the way we do things in our organizations rather than finding the courage to forge a new direction. Each of us has the power to move our organizations forward by assuming the personal responsibility for working effec­tively as a member of various teams.


Most organizations benefit from the development of unique skills. Traditionally, folio wing the work of Adam Smith, managers believed productivity increased if tasks were divided into repeatable segments, each a complete step in the process. Smith defined this scheme as the "division of labor." The benefits are not disputed but today's work and work force do not lend themselves to this simple strategy. The work of incorporating more knowledge into our work exceeds the cognitive capabilities of one individual. Many people must work together. Equally important is the change in expectations of the work force. Some have labeled this a shift from "work ethic" to "worth ethic." Individuals expect to be treated with respect and honor. The popular literature sights examples of workers expecting to be shown what must be accomplished but not told how to achieve the goal. The how is left to groups of workers to decide as best fits their capabilities. This evolution makes the concept of function fuzzy. The term function is no longer synonymous with department. For our purposes, we define function as some necessary element of the task that may be common to more than one task and may be shared by more than one worker. A Venn diagram follows to show the interdependency of multiple work groups who may be contributing to the completion of the task.

Specialized work is performed by those with the skills labeled A, B, C, D, and E. These are the traditional functions. But the functional work is focused on achieving the objectives of the enterprise. These are the overlapping areas showing how different skills are applied to various tasks. In this example, the functions performed are design­ing, manufacturing and marketing the products. Each of these tasks require more than one type of skill. In the IEM model, function refers to both the specialized skill groups and the common work of many groups to achieve a func­tional task, i.e., manufacturing the product, etc. Tradi­tional hierarchical models of organizations portray the command structure not the nature of the work that inter­ests the customers. The Venn diagram relating the func­tional work tasks with less emphasis on which department contributes to the work gives greater emphasis to what interests the customers.


Teams, individuals, and emerging forms of organizations such as clusters all must perform various functions. A desire for efficiency and continuous improvement in skills creates a functional identity. Members of the enterprise with specific skills identify more with their functional skills than they do with the enterprise. The perspective of the function requires individuals to view issues from consideration of the integrated impact across functions. Effective organizations, those tha respond to changes in their customers' needs or the organization's environment, have active mechanisms for integrating the capabilities of many functions with a common set of goals.
 

To be Continued


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