Our website uses cookies from third parties like Google Analytics and Youtube, to improve your experience. By using the website, you consent to the use of cookies. 

What is a Complete System of Roles?

You are here:
  • Main
  • FAQs
  • What is a Complete System of Roles?
< All Topics

A complete System of Roles is when all capabilities, perspectives, strategies, and issues have a designated and capable owner. In a system of roles key perspective, accountabilities and responsibilities are divided so that a group can accomplish more together than individually. This is also a method to organize and manage task complexity.

In a system of roles, people and teams tend to advocate and operate from the perspective of the roles they play.

Complete System of Roles Implementing a Complete System of Strategies

How Does It Work?

A complete enterprise system of roles includes seven types of roles arrayed on a spectrum from a mostly vertical perspective to a mostly horizontal one.

Roles with a Mostly Vertical Perspective – The mindset is to identify and resolve primary constraints of all kinds and as a result, create system-wide breakthroughs to higher performance (e.g. Building new train lines to expand capacity).

Roles with a Mostly Vertical Perspective

Roles with A Mostly Horizontal Perspective – The mindset is to optimize performance within the limits of the current system, minimizing variation and risk (e.g. Keeping current trains lines running on time).

Key Distinctions: Complete System of Roles

A complete enterprise system of roles includes seven types of roles arrayed on a spectrum from a mostly vertical perspective to a mostly horizontal one.

The optimal balance between horizontal and vertical perspectives required to drive higher performance depends on the specific perspective. Too horizontal will result in ‘stagnation.’ Too vertical will result in ‘wishful thinking.’ You need both. The right long-term balance skews more to the vertical. Sometimes the right short-term balance is a little more horizontal.

Role. A role is shorthand for a set of expectations, e.g., for mindset, accountabilities, and responsibilities. For example, we expect parents to model good ‘parenting,’ team leaders to model good ‘team leadership,’ and salespeople to model good ‘salesmanship’.

Complete System of Roles. In a system of roles, key perspectives, accountabilities, and responsibilities are divided so that a group can accomplish more together than individually. This is a method to organize and manage task complexity. In a system of roles, people and teams tend to advocate and operate from the perspective of the roles that they play.

Functionitus. Functionitus is when the functional perspective overrules the business perspective, short-circuiting vital creative tensions to the detriment of overall performance.

Creative Tension. Creative tension is the natural result of the diversity of perspectives created by distributed leadership, e.g., two or more roles seeking to solve the same challenges from different perspectives. Where there is healthy creative tension, it serves to drive alignment, innovation, and human development.

Key Perspectives:  Complete System of Roles

Investors: Investors operate with the mindset and intention for ensuring that enterprise leaders are creating the necessary capabilities and business conditions and that they are in place to maximize the enterprise’s expectations for growth and profit.

Perspectives & Strategies:

  • What is and is not effective leadership and culture?  Mission?  Vision?  Values?
  • How to develop and retain effective top leadership?  Top team compensation?
  • What is the value proposition to investors?
  • How to become an investment of choice?
  • What should be the capital structure?
  • How much to return to investors?
  • How to meet legal obligations?

Enterprise Leader

The enterprise leaders should always have the final call on who plays which role in the system-of-roles and the culture. An enterprise is a system-of-roles designed to develop and grow a portfolio of businesses and functions.

Perspectives & Strategies:

  • What is the current evolutionary stage of the enterprise?  How will the current primary constraint to enterprise performance get resolved?
  • What should be the system-of-roles & protocols? How to ensure constructive creative tension?
  • How to ensure clear reporting relationships?  How to ensure constraints are identified and resolved?
  • What key capabilities will be the basis for competitive advantage (e.g., the innovation focus)?
  • In what scope of businesses will the enterprise compete?  How to and why segment businesses?
  • Business investment/acquisition and divestiture criteria
  • How to develop each member of the enterprise team?

Business Segment Leader

A business segment leader owns the system of capabilities designed to develop, sell, deliver, and support products and services to target customers in a way that optimizes growth and competitive advantage.

Perspectives & Strategies:

  • How to maximize competitive advantage across a portfolio of products and services?
  • How to continually identify and resolve the current primary constraint in the go-to-market path (Develop, Sell, Deliver, Support)?
  • How to build and align a multi-disciplinary team? How to ensure and leverage naturally occurring creative tensions?
  • How to develop a high performing team (HPT)? How to develop each member of a business team?

Functional Leader

A functional leader role is to lead and optimize a portfolio of capabilities shared across multiple businesses.

Perspectives & Strategies:

  • What are the businesses trying to accomplish?  Current primary constraints to growth and competitive advantage?  How does that relate to this function?
  • What is the enterprise basis for competitive advantage? In what capabilities will this function be the standard-setter, outsource, or seek parity?
  • How to provide key capabilities across a portfolio of businesses?  What is the current primary constraint in this function?
  • Investments to make towards collaborative partnerships

Developing Functional Leader

A developing functional leader role is to develop winning value propositions.

Perspectives & Strategies:

  • Scope of target customers and partners? Priorities?
  • Scope of products and services?  Pricing parameters? Priorities?
  • How to create winning value propositions?  Promise-of-performance? Value-curves?  Positioning?
  • Product and market investment priorities?
  • How to develop each member of a “deliver” team?

Selling Functional Leader

A selling functional leader’s role is to gain access to target customers and create successful purchase moments.

Perspectives & Strategies:

  • How to gain access to target customers and create successful purchase moments?  How to segment sales territories? Campaigns?  Priorities?
  • How to resolve the current primary constraint in the path to a winning sales process?
  • How to cross-sell?  Starters?  Builders?  Bundling?  Pricing specifics?
  • How to develop each member of a “sales” team?

Delivering Functional Leader

A delivering function leader’s role is to deliver as promised and to trigger positive referrals.

Perspectives & Strategies:

  • How to deliver as promised to all stakeholders?
  • Scope of platforms?
  • Winning technologies?
  • Procurement of inputs?
  • How to trigger positive referrals?
  • How to develop each member of a “deliver” team?

Supporting Functional Leader

A supporting functional leader’s role is to create scalability and reduce complexity for internal stakeholders.

Perspectives & Strategies:

  • How to support the internal needs of businesses and functions?
  • How to set scalable standards that reduce complexity and cost?
  • Scope of Legal, IS, HR, and Finance platforms?
  • Human Performance System?

NOTE TO THE READER: This Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) narrative serves as an invitation to all General Partners and Leaders to enable and support EDJ’s Transformation by socializing and helping associates clearly understand EDJ’s emerging shared language. Thank you in advance for your leadership and support to leading change!

Table of Contents

Leave a Reply