01: Reducing Complexity in the Central Core

The leadership team at an aerospace organization realized the executive office had become too complicated. Over time, the number of units (internal divisions and inter-organizational groups) reporting directly to headquarters had grown. The original structure, based on core functions such as launch and landing operations, vehicle and payload processing, and engineering and development (coupled with traditional support functions such as HR and Accounting), had increased. Now there were structural units to also support and integrate federal and state government partners, military partners, commercial contractors, and academic and commercial research partners. The result of this structural growth was an ever-increasing demand on management’s time. This resulted in repeating cycles (and countless meetings) where executive attention and decision-making capacity for non-essential work had to be reprioritized. Unfortunately, many activities that supported efficient operations could be considered non-essential. The organization entered a state where core services were still provided at high levels of performance, while many other organizational activities experienced errors and prolonged delays.

The solution to this problem was to re-design the organization’s entire structure to effectively reduce the number of direct links to the team and allowing the executives to function as a strategic central core. This required the consolidation of some divisions and the relocation of certain functions. These changes were supported by an increase in the level of decentralization to ensure operations met stated performance criteria. All of this was accomplished while maintaining compliance to the organization’s ISO standards. The project reduced departmental reporting complexity by more than 30% and improved performance (and managerial oversight) of all non-essential activities.

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