People and Processes Working together as
Cross-Functional Teams

Since the industrial revolution in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, the birth, design and operation of organizations has been characterized by an interdependent balance between two broad “perspectives” for how people explain the underlying causes of an organization’s day-to-day operations. The first is a structures-and-systems perspective that tends to view organizations as interdependent structures and systems that need to be directed, managed and controlled in order to achieve well-defined goals and objectives. On this view, structures and systems are populated by managers, supervisors, and staff members who must be trained and developed, and can be replaced by other competent people. The human-performance perspective tends to view organizations as interdependent social networks, work-groups, teams or individual performers who need to be led, facilitated and inspired, with strategies, objectives and goals that emerge and can morph over time. On this view, people are the process rather than structures and systems – in fact, sometimes people are viewed as being irreplaceable. Most people tend to live in the Essential Tension™ between both perspectives, with one or the other being a more dominant way of seeing themselves, others, and the world of day-to-day operations. Why is it important to understand the distinction between the: a) structures-and-systems and b) human-performance perspectives? It’s important because most organizational cultures have stronger preferences (or biases) for one perspective over the other, and this preference shapes and defines the conclusions that managers come to about the underlying causes of organizational and individual performance problems.

Over the last seven decades, the prevailing wisdom in most business schools and boardrooms has been dominated by the structures-and-systems perspective. In fact, an analysis of the top 100 best selling articles from the first 75 years of the Harvard Business Review (1922-1997) shows that 90% of them reflect the structures-and-systems perspective, and half of the remaining 10% of articles that cover topics from the human-performance perspective were written by a single person – John Kotter. Perhaps the best example of viewing an organization from strictly a structures-and-systems perspective and ignoring the human-performance perspective was Business Process Reengineering (BPR).


Organizational Trust Index™ (OTI™)

Trust is the foundation of all human interactions, and the cornerstone upon which high-performing organizational cultures are built. Trust is often thought of in terms of individual people and one-on-one relationships, for example we trust our coworkers, direct reports, or our boss. But unlike trusting individuals, the interdependent actions and interactions of structures, systems, and culture can reach a level of combinatorial complexity where the “system” takes on a life of its own independent of the day-to-day actions and interactions of individual managers and staff members. The degree to which people either trust the structures, systems, and culture of the organization they work in, or fear them is a “window” into the underlying patterns of behavior, belief structure, and tacit assumptions that constitute an organization’s culture. The OTI™ also quantifies what a lack of organizational trust may be costing you in squandered time and energy – hidden costs that don’t appear in traditional financial accounting systems.

Free OTI™

Just click on the link above, complete the questions in 3-4 minutes, and your free Organizational Trust Index™ report will be sent directly to you. This is the first step to helping your organization get better results through diagnosis. Go to for more information on the OTI™.

Organizational Focus Indicator™ (OFI™)

The Organizational Focus Indicator™ (OFI™) measures key indicators of the degree to which your organization is either externally focused on producing results, outputs, and meeting customer needs, or internally focused on the structures, systems, people, and internal operations needed to meet those needs. The OFI™ also quantifies what your organization’s level of external or internal focus may be costing you in squandered time and energy – hidden costs that don’t appear in traditional financial accounting systems.

Free OFI™

Just click on the link above, complete the questions in 3-4 minutes, and your free Organizational Focus Indicator™ report will be sent directly to you. This is the first step to helping your organization get better results through diagnosis. Go to for more information on the OFI™.

HBR Editor’s Blog

Every month, the senior editors of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) invite internationally recognized organizational theorists and practitioners to raise issues and answer questions about leadership and management issues on the HBR Editor’s Blog. This month, we provide Pinnacle readers with links to two important and interesting discussions (see below).

Tammy Erickson, Rethinking Performance Assessment

John Kotter, If You Think You’re Prepared, Think Again

We encourage you to join the conversation on the HBR Editor’s Blog and voice your opinions, commentary, and insights on these and other important topics.

Other Things…

Mark Bodnarczuk has been invited to be the Chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s technical meeting on The Management of Change in New Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Projects in Vienna, Austria in May 2011 (see He will also be speaking on the topic Leading and Managing Change: Lessons Learned.
The Breckenridge Institute® has developed a new on-line certification program for the BTI™ personality type indicator (Enneagram). The on-line certification program can be completed 24X7 anywhere in the world where there is Internet access, and costs only $595. For more information on how you can use the BTI™ in your organization or with your clients go to or e-mail us at
Mark Bodnarczuk’s book, Making Invisible Bureaucracy Visible: A Guide to Assessing and Changing Organizational Culture is available at on-line world-wide at locations like

For a more complete listing of on-line videos, books, articles, and white papers from the Breckenridge Institute® go to

Breckenridge Institute®

If you would like information about the Breckenridge Institute’s research activities, portfolio of organizational assessment tools, individual assessment tools, or consulting services, visit our website at Also visit

Copyright © Breckenridge Institute® 2011. All Rights Reserved
Better Results through Diagnosis



Managers need fact-based decision-making based on quantitative and qualitative data with rigorous diagnosis – not just business experience and intuition.


The Organizational Alignment Indicator™ (OAI™)

Every organization is perfectly aligned to get the results they get. Because the OAI™ can be used to baseline the alignment of an entire organization or a work-group, it is typically used by top managers, business owners, and middle-managers when they are anticipating or experiencing significant change due to substantial growth; reorganizations; a performance impasse; changes in leadership; change in strategic direction; decline in business performance; or mergers and acquisitions. The OAI™ can also be used as an effective alternative to 360-degree reviews because it allows you to evaluate a manager’s leadership and management skills, within the context of an organization’s structures, systems, and culture. The OAI™ will help you align your organization’s strategy, execution, and organizational culture to get the results you want. It will also show you what misaligned structures, systems, and culture may be costing you in squandered time and energy – valuable resources that become unavailable to help you achieve your goals and objectives.

Free OAI™

Just click on the link above, complete the questions in 3-4 minutes, and your free Organizational Alignment Indicator™ report will be sent directly to you. This is the first step to helping your organization get better results through diagnosis. Go to for more information on the OAI™.

Books and Articles

John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness

“What if being lonely were a bigger problem than we ever suspected? Based on John T. Cacioppo’s pioneering research, Loneliness explores the surprising effects of this all-too-human experience, providing a fundamentally new view of the importance of social connection and how it can rescue us from painful isolation. His sophisticated studies relying on brain imaging, analysis of blood pressure, immune response, stress hormones, behavior, and even gene expression show that human beings are simply far more intertwined and interdependent (physiologically as well as psychologically) than our cultural assumptions have ever allowed us to acknowledge. Bringing urgency to the message, Cacioppo’s findings also show that prolonged loneliness can be as harmful to your health as smoking or obesity. On the flip side, they demonstrate the therapeutic power of social connection and point the way toward making that healing balm available to everyone. Cacioppo has worked with science writer William Patrick to trace the evolution of these tandem forces, showing how, for our primitive ancestors, survival depended not on greater brawn but on greater commitments to and from one another. Serving as a prompt to repair frayed social bonds, the pain of loneliness engendered a fear response so powerfully disruptive that even now, millions of years later, a persistent sense of rejection or isolation can impair DNA transcription in our immune cells. This disruption also impairs thinking, will power, and perseverance, as well as our ability to read social signals and exercise social skills. It also limits our ability to internally regulate our emotions – all of which can combine to trap us in self-defeating behaviors that reinforce the very isolation and rejection we dread. Loneliness shows each of us how to overcome this feedback loop of defensive behaviors to achieve better health and greater happiness. For society, the potential payoff is the greater prosperity and social cohesion that follows from increased social trust. Ultimately, Loneliness demonstrates the irrationality of our culture’s intense focus on competition and individualism at the expense of family and community. It makes the case that the unit of one is actually an inadequate measure, even when it comes to health and well-being of the individual.” Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection is published by W.W. Norton & Company and is available on