Solving Problems/Improving Leadership

Streamlining the Efficiency of Organizations During Heavy Work Periods

My internship at the Institute for Free Speech focuses on advocating for free expression issues in the current political climate. A challenge is that we are responding to threats to free speech as they occur and we do not have control over when others decide to create problems in the political climate. The result is that there are weeks where there are not many pressing issues but then there are weeks when multiple challenging events happen at once that we need to respond to. Consequently, there is not an even flow to the work and it instead comes in waves.

One operational difficulty my organization faces is balancing is how to manage the workload effectively. When certain issues arise it is important that we get work out quickly in response. I submit my work through my supervisor which goes through two or three stages of approval. A problem is that when a lot of work comes up at once then this can reduce the speed of the turnaround for approving work for publication. There are two sides to this dilemma. Going through multiple stages of review consumes more time but also produces more quality work that has fewer errors. The decision that leaders have to make is how to balance quality and quantity when completing work that needs to be done in terms of time pressure.

I think that one way to solve this balancing difficulty is to have leaders adopt more collaborative strategies for reviewing work. For instance, my work is reviewed by one person, which is then viewed by another person, and in some cases is reviewed by another person in a staggered chain. However, if multiple individuals are trained to review the initial draft of work then that will provide more outlets for getting feedback on the first draft which will streamline producing material. This strategy would not reduce the stages of review so it theoretically will not reduce the quality of the work but may increase the efficiency that can speed up the quality of the review. For example, if my boss who reviews my initial draft was expanded into three individuals that could review my initial draft then that can increase the speed by which my initial draft can be reviewed if my boss has a very busy week and is flooded with work.

I think this case demonstrates how leadership can improve the efficiency of an organization by decentralizing reviewers of work material so that work can avoid falling heavily on certain individuals and produce backlog. Leaders can help to achieve these reforms by training more individuals and creating a work hierarchy that makes teamwork more collaborative across several individuals. My organization does an excellent job with producing quality work but I think that some changes of the structure of the organization can improve the ability for organizations to efficiently complete work during times when the work becomes heavy.