Closed-loop Teams


For years, banks have taken several days, and even weeks and sometimes months to get a decision to a personal loan applicant. The application would be passed around the various departments, traveling at its own pace. A series of supervisors, clerks, and internal mailpeople handled it. Today, aggressive banks take the application directly into a focused, coordinated group—a credit analyst, a collateral appraiser, and a senior personal banker—who decide and respond to the customer sometimes in thirty minutes and always inside a day. This is a small closed-loop team.

 

A closed-loop team includes everyone who is necessary to make the deliverable flow. The team includes all the needed functional people and decision-makers and is self-scheduling. Everyone the team is working for the same objective—to provide the deliverable on time. The team is empowered to make decisions and to act. It has all functions inside it with short lines of communication. Its leader is responsible for its overall performance and for seeing that it gets all the capability, both technicall and human, it needs. All of these are essential to flexibility.

 

The old bank loan approval process was open loop. There was no continuity in the process, no visible standard, little learning between the principles, only occasional feedback on the process, and no one responsible for making it better.

 

In order for the loop to close on a process it must be tightly organized around the deliverable; the same core group must be involved in the process every day; and there must be a working leader on the team.

 

Small teams work better than large ones because large groups create communication problems of their own. It’s best to include only essential functions and to exclude people whose job is peripheral to the deliverable. For example, the bank loan team excludes accounting and records people. Teams have to be self-managing and empowered to act because referring decisions back up the line wastes time and often leads to poor decisions. So the team ioncludes a bank officer because if the officer were not on the team, he or she would be prone to second-guess the group’s decisions. Its better if all the questions are asked and answers are exchanged just once.

 

Closd-loop teams handle variety better than open-loop teams because they can create new information and flexibility.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Spending Most Time with Best People


If you are a manager, you may want to try this exercise. On the left-habd side of a blank sheet of paper write diwn the names of the people who report to you on descending order of productivity, the most productive at the top, the best productive at the bottom. On the right hand side, write down the same names, but the time in descending order of “time you spend with them,” the most time at the top, the least time at the bottom. Now draw straight lines joining the names in the left with the appropriate names on the right.

 

Do your lines cross? They often do. Many managers find themselves spending the most time with their least productive people and the least time with their most productive people. On the surface this would appear to be an eminently safe way for a manager to invest his time. After all, your best employees can already do the job. They don’t need you. But those few employees who are struggling. They need all the help you can give them. Without your support they might not only fail as individuals, they might also drag down the entire team.

 

Investing in your strugglers appears shrewed, yet the most effective managers do the opposite. When they join the names, their lines are horizontal. They spend the most time with their most productive employees.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight