About the Courage to Keep Organizational Structures Agile
“I learned the value of investing time in managing my organization’s structure, as this has a direct impact on all staff and the company’s future”, says Wesley Meier, founder of EOS International and a member of empowering people. Network (epNetwork). Inspired by epNetwork’s workshop on organizational development in 2017, Wesley and his team have been working intensively on internal structures in recent months. Together, they have successfully established an agile system.
Founded in 2008, EOS International is located in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where fifty percent of the rural population lives below the national poverty line. The company empowers rural families in Central America with access to clean water and opportunities to generate income through simple technology solutions and education. Currently, Wesley’s team consists of 20 people, whereof 15 work in Nicaragua and 5 are located across the Unites States. In November 2017, the annual empowering people. Workshop took place in Amsterdam and Wesley decided to participate to see what he could learn.
Learning alongside peers
At the workshop, 50 like-minded social entrepreneurs and epNetwork members from North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe met for four days to make themselves familiar with decision-making models, future-oriented leadership approaches, and tools for organizational development. “It was amazing to share examples with other companies on how we all are working on our own projects and organizations in various countries of operations. I found Holacracy, a customizable self management practice, to be a helpful and interesting model as it matches our organization’s needs and leadership structures.”, Wesley says.
Trust and tranparency as the keys to success
Creating roles was not completely new to him, however, Wesley was excited to learn new strategies to map out employee activities and removing overlaping responsibilities. “I actually started conversations with the team while I was still in Amsterdam. Upon my return, we went through each team member and separated roles from functions which we felt in the past had confused us”, Wesley explains. “We identified several bottlenecks and overlap in responsibilities. For example, our Nicaraguan administration coordinator was responsible for consolidating all monthly installation, impact, accounting and quality analysis reports from several other employees. We reassigned the reports to come directly from the coordinator in each department allowing the reports to arrive on time and streamline the process. We set up clear formats and metrics to ensure the reports were accurate and small. This new process saved precious time from the administration team.”
Their system is based on clear expectations and goals for each person, and a traffic light system to track and evaluate on a quarterly basis. Via dashboards, they constantly get informed about each other’s progress and have the chance to readjust roles. This method helped EOS transfer leadership and witness good results in a short amount of time. “To sum up, the combination of trust in each other’s skills and transparency in terms of performance and responsibility has been a key to success”, Wesley explains.
“EOS is fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Siemens Stiftung and learn about different organizational models, and identify the optimum one for our team. I personally believe that investment into learning about optimial organizational structures can make a big difference to the company’s productivity. Every organization needs to review the most suitable model and make evaluations by being critical. By making conscious decisions, team leaders can empower their teams”, Wesley concludes.