Organizational performance comprises the actual output or results of an organization as measured against its intended outputs (or goals and objectives).
Specialists in many fields are concerned with organizational performance including strategic planners, operations, finance, legal, and organizational development.
In recent years, many organizations have attempted to manage organizational performance using the balanced scorecard methodology where performance is tracked and measured in multiple dimensions such as:
- Financial performance (e.g. shareholder return) - customer service - social responsibility (e.g. corporate citizenship, community outreach) - employee stewardship
Ergonomics (or human factors) is the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environment for human use. Ergonomics is commonly thought of as how companies design tasks and work areas to maximize the efficiency and quality of their employees’ work. However, ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Work systems, sports and leisure, health and safety should all embody ergonomics principles if well designed.
It is the applied science of equipment design intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. The field is also called biotechnology, human engineering, and human factors engineering.
Ergonomic research is primarily performed by ergonomists who study human capabilities in relationship to their work demands. Information derived from ergonomists contributes to the design and evaluation of tasks, jobs, products, environments and systems in order to make them compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations of people.
In business, a cross-functional team is a group of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal. It may include people from finance, marketing, operations, and human resources departments. Typically, it includes employees from all levels of an organization. Members may also come from outside an organization (in particular, from suppliers, key customers, or consultants).
Cross-functional teams often function as self-directed teams responding to broad, but not specific directives. Decision-making within a team may depend on consensus, but often is led by a manager/coach/team leader.
A non-business, yet good example of cross-functional teams are music bands, where each element plays a different instrument (or has a different role). Songs are the result of collaboration and participation, and the goals are decided by consensus. Skills to play all the instruments involved are not required since music provides a standard language that everybody in the team can understand. In short, music bands are clear examples of how these teams work.
Organizational consequences of cross-functional teams
The growth of self-directed cross-functional teams has influenced decision-making processes and organizational structures. Although management theory likes to propound that every type of organizational structure needs to make strategic, tactical, and operational decisions, new procedures have started to emerge that work best with teams.
- Less unidirectional - Up until recently, decision making flowed in one direction. Overall corporate-level objectives drove strategic business unit (SBU) objectives, and these in turn, drove functional level objectives. Today, organizations have flatter structures, companies diversify less, and functional departments have started to become less well-defined. The rise of self-directed teams reflects these trends. Intra-team dynamics tend to become multi-directional rather than hierarchical. Interactive processes encourage consensus within teams. Also the directives given to the team tend to become more general and less prescribed.
- Greater scope of information - Cross-functional teams require a wide range of information to reach their decisions. They need to draw on information from all parts of an organization’s information base. This includes information from all functional departments. System integration becomes important because it makes all information accessible through a single interface.
- Greater depth of information - Cross-functional teams require information from all levels of management. The teams may have their origins in the perceived need to make primarily strategic decisions, tactical decisions, or operational decisions, but they will require all three types of information. Almost all self-directed teams will need information traditionally used in strategic, tactical, and operational decisions. For example, new product development traditionally ranks as a tactical procedure. It gets strategic direction from top management, and uses operational departments like engineering and marketing to perform its task. But a new product development team would consist of people from the operational departments and often someone from top management.
In many cases, the team would make unstructured strategic decisions -- such as what markets to compete in, what new production technologies to invest in, and what return on investment to require; tactical decisions like whether to build a prototype, whether to concept-test, whether to test-market, and how much to produce; and structured operational decisions like production scheduling, inventory purchases, and media flightings. In other cases, the team would confine itself to tactical and operational decisions. In either case it would need information associated with all three levels.
- Greater range of users - Cross-functional teams consist of people from many parts of an organization. Information must take a form that all users understand. Not only engineers use technical data and not only accountants use financial data and not only human resources personnel use HR data. Modern organizations lack middle managers to combine, sort, and prioritize the data. Technical, financial, marketing, and all other types of information must come in a form that all members of a cross-functional team can understand. This involves reducing the amount of specialized jargon, sorting information based on importance, hiding complex statistical procedures from the users, giving interpretations of results, and providing clear explanations of difficult concepts. Slicing and dicing techniques may prove useful in providing different views of the information to different users. Data visualization systems can present complex results in an intuitive manner.
- Less teleological - Since the publication of Peter Drucker’s views on "Management by Objectives", business decision-making has become more goal-oriented. Managers have come to view decision-making generally, and strategic thinking in particular, as a multi-stage process that starts with an assessment of the current situation, determines objectives, then determines how to reach these objectives. Management by objectives took this basic scheme and applied it to virtually all significant decisions. Today many firms have started to opt for a less structured, more interactive approach. One way of implementing this involves using self-directed cross-functional teams. Proponents hope that these teams will develop strategies that will re-define industries and create new “best practices”. They feel that mere incremental improvements do not suffice. Cross-functional teams, using unstructured techniques and searching for revolutionary competitive advantages, allegedly require information systems featuring increased interactivity, more flexibility, and the capability of dealing with fuzzy logic. Artificial intelligence holds out the promise of one day proving useful in this regard.
Jargon is terminology that relates to a specific activity, profession or group. Much like slang it develops as a kind of shorthand, to quickly express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of a group. In many cases a standard term may be given a more precise or specialized usage among practicioners of a field.
Uses of Jargon
Jargon is used in several fields:
- Sports: One can find jargon just by watching a major league baseball broadcast, where commentators compete for the greatest density of technical sport terms and other sport-related metaphors.
- Medicine: Particularly in the operating room or under emergency conditions, particular jargons have developed that allow medical professionals to communicate quickly and effectively where common language would take much longer. This kind of jargon is also known as technical terminology.
- Information Technology and the Internet: Computer and programming jargons used by computer scientists, programmers, system architects, enthusiasts and hackers to communicate. The proper usage of these words is a sometimes considered prerequisite for inclusion in these groups (leetspeak).
- Nautical Terms, a good example of an ancient form of jargon.
- Jargon specific to the European Union, particularly its administration.
Pitfalls of Jargon
In some cases it is used to distinguish those belonging to a group from those who are not. This is sometimes called "guild" or "insider" jargon. Those unfamiliar with a subject can often be tagged by their incorrect use of jargon. The use of jargon by outsiders is considered by insiders to be audacious, since it constitutes a claim to membership of the insider group. Conversely, since outsiders may not see the reference made via jargon, they are all the more sensitive to its more visible elitist social framing. Jargon often comes across as pedantic, nerdy, and divorced from meaning to outsiders.