We are developing ideas about the ‘expert-centric’ company – as a contrast to the ‘process-centric’ company.
Clearly all companies need both processes and experts, but our idea is that the emphasis has maybe gone too far towards ‘processes’ and less towards ‘experts’, and we want to find ways to rebalance this.
One idea comes from BP’s restructuring after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. At the time of the accident, the management structure for offshore drilling was to have drilling engineers reporting to the head of drilling project, who was chiefly concerned with getting the project done on time (and in the Deepwater Horizon example, was concerned about project delays and increased costs).
BP re-organised (see this article) so that its drilling experts offshore would report to the company’s head of drilling – who would be far more interested in the company’s drilling safety than getting one of the company’s drilling projects completed on time.
It made other efforts to make sure “excellence” was encouraged via reward structures (ie money). The company’s CEO said that re-structuring of the upstream business into separate functions would foster the long-term development of specialist expertise.
So here are 2 ways to make a company more expert – centric – one is to structure it around experts (with experts reporting to the company’s top experts), another is to have more expert centric software.