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Sustainable Organization Development Methodology

Why Fresh Horses Is Not the Answer
When a breakdown in the effectiveness of a team occurs, leaders all too often find themselves asking the question of who or what is wrong:

"What's wrong with them, with me, with it?"
This question can be helpful in directing the attention to valid areas of inquiry; one's own actions (me), the team (them) and processes in place or other parts of the environment (it). There is a danger, however, that asking what is wrong, versus asking what is happening, will set a context of blame. Without reflection, this can lead to the assumption that punishment of someone is an effective response to the problem.

The admonishment, embarrassment, demotion, or firing of a person within the organization can become the symbol of leadership's commitment to improved performance. In the process, the company or agency loses its curiosity about just what did break down and what might be done to foster long-term sustainable improvements in performance.

At Schilling & Maure some of the questions we focus on are the following:

"What/Where is the breakdown?"

"What means of assessment can we employ?"

"What is the most appropriate intervention to transform the situation with the team that is already in place?"

These questions allow discovery of what competence might be missing and how to best impart it, or what factors might causing a disruption in the ability of the individual or team to share in a commitment to the desired result.

In the absence of focusing on empowering the existing team, plans are often made to replace key members of teams, or restructure the organization around the teams or managers that are assessed as most committed and competent.

Replacing leaders or key team members, or reassigning functions to managers who appear to have made fewer errors is costly and risky. There is no guarantee that the new leader, reporting structure, manager or team will outperform the previous one. They are likely to arrive with a new and different combination of skills and blind spots, team dynamics and personality clashes. "Fresh horses" is an appropriate response to certain circumstances, but building a sustainable high-functioning team in a corporate or government setting is not often one of them.

While there are clearly situations in which replacing or reassigning staff is the best option, at Schilling & Maure our overriding preference is to work with the team that is already in place. In this way, the networks of relationships that exist can be leveraged, and the historical information embodied within the team preserved. We think that the relationships within a team are responsible for much of its performance, and that removing team members, particularly in ways that are sudden or traumatic, is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

Our consistent experience over working with hundreds of teams is that in most cases, investing in the existing team is ultimately more cost-effective and more productive in the long run for the company, than the cost of recruiting, training and assimilating new leaders or staff.

Identifying The Breakdown
Employee retention, project schedules and budgets, customer satisfaction, funding and profit margin are all indicators that can show the results of effective action or breakdowns in an organization.

Organizations are complex environments and depending on the observer, different interpretations of the situation and how to effectively intervene in it will exist. Our approach is to design ways to hear from cross sections of the organization, in order to discover themes and develop a well-rounded view of the situation before proposing a course of corrective or developmental action.

Through thoughtful and custom designing of online staff or customer surveys, interview questions for focus groups and key staff members, and review of business processes and measures in effect, we are able to identify and validate the various interpretations in play. This allows visibility of shared and diverse perceptions within the overall group.

Means of Assessment

Behavioral Assessment
Schilling & Maure is licensed to administer the Devine Inventory, a web-based, customizable behavioral-preference inventory that displays the behavioral and interactive preferences of individual members, suggesting areas where they should focus to improve overall performance. Excellent performance requires a balance of clear objectives, experience, technical competence, and behavioral skills. The Devine Inventory provides a measure of behaviors that is statistically valid, and Schilling & Maure consultants interpret results in a practical and user-friendly manner to enhance performance.

Quantitative Organization and Team Culture Reports
Team and cultural Devine Inventory reports can be prepared when the Devine Inventory is administered to an entire team or organization. Reports can compare preferences of different sub-groups, identifying effective leadership styles that can enhance cultural integration and team performance.

Business Process Assessment and Business Metrics Benchmarking
A combination of tools, process flow, documentation and metrics audits gives a clear picture of where opportunities to improve current business processes exist, and what metrics can be introduced to assist managers in achieving their goals. Recommendations are pragmatic and take into account established constraints, organization culture and political will.

Design and Delivery of Effective Interventions

Strategic Planning
Strategic Planning identifies the mission, vision and values of an organization, and assesses its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This information is used as the basis for action plans to significantly improve performance across the board, on a three- to five-year time frame. Schilling & Maure, in partnership with KH Consulting Group, facilitates a collaborative strategic planning process with a proven track record of success.

Executive Coaching
The purpose of Executive Coaching is to produce sustained excellent performance that is self-generating and self-correcting. Leadership of a medium to large firm requires excellent communications and listening skills to develop a unified vision that reflects the values and purposes of the organization. It also requires the ability to work effectively with peers and subordinates to maximize overall team effectiveness. Our executive coaches work one-on-one with clients so that they are able to:
  • Make new distinctions
  • Make more effective requests and promises
  • Observe their own and others' behavior in a new fashion
  • Take on new practices that strengthen and reinforce desired changes in day-to-day performance.
  • Develop the presence of a leader
Executive Teambuilding
Developed in conjunction with Executive Coaching, half-day teambuilding sessions for executive leadership are designed around issues that are uncovered in the one-on-one coaching. Without revealing confidential client conversations, coaches confer to identify common themes that could profitably be addressed by the entire team. The combination of teambuilding and coaching is a powerful approach to increasing the effectiveness and satisfaction of executive teams.

Middle Management Effectiveness Program We work with middle management teams to help them "manage up"
  • Diagnose their areas of greatest effectiveness
  • Determine ways to produce the results that meant the most to executive management
  • Improve their sense of accomplishment
  • Identify allies and networks of support
  • Improve communications skills and conversational design
  • Determine the most effective means of achieving organizational change;
    • procedural changes
    • policy changes
    • process improvements
    • customer service initiatives.
The program includes working with groups and teams to identify the "mission" of middle managers, the tools they have at hand, and the best ways in employ them in order to produce significant organizational changes.

Process Reengineering
Schilling & Maure consultants are experienced in developing strategies, implementing changes to processes and procedures, and improving team cohesion to dramatically enhance the effectiveness of organizations. They are particularly effective in identifying and implementing technology based solutions that manage processes, optimizing opportunities for human judgment and input while reducing time-wasting repetitive operations.

What Results Can Schilling & Maure Clients Expect? Clients who contract for organizational development work can expect:
  • Significantly improved performance by the executive management team
  • Coordinated action by executive and middle management to achieve results
  • Ability to rapidly respond to changes in the marketplace or environment
  • Quicker achievement of measurable organizational goals.

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