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Women in Big Data Founders

The Critical Role Org Design Plays in Data Utilization

Katie Murphy

Women in Big Data held a session on August 24, 2021 with Katie Murphy, Founder and CEO of Expansion Group. Katie walked us through Organization Design and Data Utilization and importance of functional alignment. Check out the recording of the session and presentation slides.

Here is summary of what Katie shared with us, in her own words:

In my 14 years working with organizations of all shapes and sizes to set up or level-up their operations, I noticed the same issues surfacing over and over again—all related to growth. The dependencies for sustainable growth include business strategy, product-market fit, intentional org and role design, and technology and data. Instead, when organizations are first starting out, they prioritize funding, sales, development and hiring. It’s a perfectly natural way to start out.

The problem is, as those dependencies for sustainable growth go unprioritized, this creates what I refer to as organizational debt. And it continues to accrue as the organization grows, which ultimately can stall or even reverse growth. This also tends to be the time when organizations turn to data as the solution, when they aren’t thinking big enough about the root cause of the problems.

Why does this happen? Because these leaders just don’t know what they don’t know and are doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. But my team and I do know. We set out to create a system to pay off this organizational debt and to teach it to as many organizations as possible, to help them achieve the impact they set out to create and grow with intention.

The most common problem we see among organizations lies in organization and role design, particularly related to functional alignment. A function is a set of activities and responsibilities grouped by skill set, such as marketing or finance.

Most organizations grow organically, resulting in an unintentional structure that changes with each hire, whereas an organization that is functionally aligned has an intentional organizational design that is a tactical response to realities of the business model. Signs of functional misalignment include duplicated efforts, customer turnover, decision paralysis and dysfunction. A functionally aligned organization benefits from optimization, customer retention, data driven decision making and thriving employees.

How do you diagnose whether your organization is functionally misaligned and go about shifting to a more intentional structure? We developed a proprietary method called function mapping. This involves mapping the desired functional state of the organization and comparing it to how the organization is functioning today. We then align functions by skillset, define the purpose of the function, create a core process to achieve that function and define what success looks like.

Addressing this misalignment results in skills alignment, incentive alignment and data utilization. Why data utilization? Because until you fully understand how your organization should function, how can you develop core processes and away to measure your performance of those processes at every step? True incentive alignment also creates the conditions for creating systems that enable data-driven decision making.

To summarize, it is likely that your organization has accrued organizational debt as it grew. One consequence of this debt is functional misalignment, which can cause duplicated efforts, customer turnover, decision paralysis and dysfunction. We have developed a method to reverse this functional misalignment through a functional mapping and analysis process. Achieving functional alignment will create skills alignment, incentive alignment and data utilization—and an environment where employees thrive.

If you’d like to learn more about how this could impact your organization, consider signing up for a workshop with us. Sometimes we offer group workshops for free. You can sign up for notifications about upcoming workshops here.

About Katie:

Katie Murphy is a professional speaker and founded a boutique consulting firm, Expansion Group in 2016. For 14 years, she has helped companies from pre-revenue to the Fortune 50 set up or level up their operations. Her zone of genius is diagnosing complex issues at their root and designing innovative solutions to solve those issues in simple steps. By the age of 28, Katie had worked with over 200 companies as a top economic developer. This led to her overseeing BrewDog PLC’s (one of the fastest growing craft beer companies) expansion into the USA. This work inspired her to found this business, Expansion Group, where she had fast success working with craft brewers and distillers all over Ohio and even worked to bring Malting Barley back to the surrounding area. Her reputation for setting up and leveling up operations led her to work with Silicon Valley-based think tank Singularity University for almost four years, nationally recognized plaintiff law firm Meyer Wilson, and the Israeli tech education company, ThriveDX (formerly HackerU).

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