The center of gravity (CG) is a physical term meaning the middle of a mass. Any group of people operating together in an organization has a center of gravity as well – the group of people who drive the customer experience, define the culture, drive change in the organization and lead activity. Interestingly, those who truly drive and influence those factors in an organization may or may not have the clear authority to do so.
As an example, here is a real-world case study of perceived CG… and the organization’s actual CG:
SC Technologies produces software tools for other software companies as standard tools without reinventing things like data engines and user interface layout tools. Customers are world-wide but the company is only 115 employees. Most of the core staff have been with the company more than 10 years and work in a highly collaborative culture.
John, the CEO with a background in technical sales, and Jose, head of operations and product development, are co-founders. John is “mister outside” and Jose is “mister inside.” Through a strategic planning retreat over a three-day period, they both were surprised to discover that they were not as much of a part of the company’s CG as they believed they were. This came about in an exercise called “You Don’t Know Jack —-.”
In the Jack —- exercise, key questions were asked about the details of the company operations and plans. Here is what was discovered:
- Margaret, Mary and Larry drive the customer experience through their customer support group.
- Jose is the major decision maker and conflict resolver.
- Change is driven by the department heads: Margaret, James, Manny, and Tim.
- The culture has gradually changed over the last 10 years from a highly entrepreneurial one of putting out fires to a more structured culture of going to the subject matter experts for ideas.
- There is a project review team that meets weekly and this group mostly runs the company.
- John and Jose were concerned that company could fail as it grew larger and the current process would not handle increasing operating complexity.
To gain a strategic focus and better lead the direction of the company, John and Jose started a Management Planning meeting that meets weekly after the project review meeting to discuss issues coming from the project meeting. The second meeting includes the department heads, John and Jose. The focus was about creating a common vision for the company, adopting a core values document, and a communications process for alignment of all employees. John also developed a revised compensation program to reward team play through linked KPIs. The new process is called “I Know Jack —-.”
What’s your organization’s CG? Is it where you’d like it to be? Tell us your story.