Leading Change
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Tips for Getting Lots Done in a Large Organization

“But now nobody knows what others do, even within the same organization”–source


Making productive changes in a large organization requires skill, focus, and discipline. I discovered Productivity’s Sworn Enemy via Twitter, which made some great suggestions.

“We are 100 years past the simple economy in which most people knew what others did at work…Everybody needs to know your priorities. If you don’t ask and don’t tell, your peers and subordinates will guess incorrectly” 

I sighed in relief when hearing this quote because the most common question I receive at work is “What do you do?” Titles rarely communicate meaningful information, and many roles have multiple responsibilities that do not fit neatly into one. I resonated with the phrase “guess incorrectly” because it reveals that not only are co-workers making assumptions about what you do, but they are usually incorrect.

In a large organization there are literally thousands of incorrect assumptions being made everyday. This can significantly inhibit productivity since it takes so much time for co-workers to educate one another and what exactly they do.

Add a clear and tactical description of what you do in your online bios (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. Since most co-workers will look for you first on social networks before connecting with you personally, you can save time and prevent unnecessary meetings.

“Chronic crisis: the emergency that returns year after year after year.”

Particularly in non-profits almost everything can be made into a crisis/necessity. Some leaders are part of a variety of teams across an organization, and each team acts as though their are the most urgent.

Organizational leaders that can focus on long-term work and avoid spending too much time on crisis’ based projects will thrive and often find themselves on projects that allow them to use their gifts and talents. Crisis’ projects rarely leverage strengths, gifts, and areas for development. Look for projects where you can uniquely contribute–you will experience significant growth and get positive feedback from those around you.

Overstaffing: “If the manager of a team spends more than about a tenth of his or her time on feuds and frictions, on jurisdictional disputes and questions of cooperation, and so on, then the work force is almost certainly too large.”

It’s easy in non-profits to always feel understaffed because the needs are so great and the job often times can literally never be done. However small teams can quickly make changes and can learn faster than large ones.

If you are on a small team with limited resources keep innovating until you find some activities that consistently deliver results. Many small teams make one large push at an innovation, see limited if any success, and then go back to status quo activities. Instead consider making making small pushes, looking for large success, then increasing resources only towards proven winners.

What are your tips for getting things done and moving things forward in a large organization?

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