Recently, my Department at Los Angeles County initiated a reorganization plan. This involved the removal of one entire “bureau” in order to streamline processes and encourage savings. At the time, one executive manager planned to retire. The decision was made to not replace her position. This move is expected to reduce costs. It also provided us with the opportunity to take a critical look at the departmental organization and determine if any efficiencies could be achieved.
Towards that end, the Executive Office setup several subcommittees. Each subcommittee was given the task to review various functional areas within the department and present both findings and potential solutions to the rest of the management. No area was deemed, “untouchable.” All facets of the organization were reviewed and those areas with the most possibilities were chosen.
I was given the opportunity of overseeing a subcommittee with the name, “Bridging Gaps.” This was an open-ended assignment. We were to first determine what a “gap” was and then how to mitigate or alleviate these gaps in our organization. The first question therefore was, ‘what is a gap?’
The group discussed gaps and finally it hit on us that the gaps almost always exist in communication. Two questions seem to be the most difficult to answer: What does the end-user need? What is the provider trying to accomplish?
The first question – what does the end-user need – typically is a result of the requester not being clear enough. One often finds that it is extremely difficult to adequately convey needs in a precise manner. I know what I want, but I can’t tell you what it is.
The second question – what is the provider trying to accomplish – can often be traced to a lack of understanding about what the goals are. This can come as a result of many factors. First off, the requester may not know exactly what needs to be done. This is often the case when requests are being forwarded down the chain of command. Second, the requester may not quite understand what is needed.
The question you might be asking are – what are your gaps?