Understanding is the foundation of change. Before we can improve, we must understand. ROET stands for Relationships, Opportunities, Efficiency, and Threats. The main purpose of ROET is to understand the reality of a team or organisation. From such understanding one can make informed decisions regarding change and maintenance.
I have been using ROET over the past decade to get an overview of organisational problems. Its name has changed a few times, but the principles remain. It was first "EOP", then "DOEP", and now "ROET". We mostly use it as the first step of a strategy development or organisational design project. In consulting, we begin these projects with a comprehensive ROET questionnaire. Yet, ROET is as meaningful when used as the basis for a conversation, or for doing a root cause analysis. The "window" model below shows the four dimensions of ROET.
If ROET is an adequate way to analyse the reality of Org, then it should cover both the operational and strategic environments of an organisation. This is because Org must perform and stay relevant, which are respectively issues of operations and strategy.
To perform, Org must be efficient, have meaningful relationships with its employees, and minimise operational threats. To stay relevant, Org must exploit opportunities, negotiate strong relationships, and ensure that nothing threatens business continuation. Performance is an issue of management, whilst relevance is a matter for leaders. ROET thus also gives meaningful guidance in terms of management and leadership.
Org can decide how to spend its resources; thus, its operational and strategic activity share the same resource pool. In so, the relationship between operational and strategic concerns are inverse. This means that the more resources we spend on one, the less we have for the other.
From an orgtology perspective, strategic concerns will reflect projective activity whilst operational concerns reflect receptive activity.
SWOT is the most known way to grasp the current reality of Org. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal, whilst opportunities and threats are external. In so profitable prospects will be an opportunity, whilst our excellent customer service is a strength. Also, lack of automation will be a weakness whilst online delivery of similar services will be a threat.
The greatest concern with SWOT is its internal / external division. As the world continues to connect, the inside / outside split will become hard to grasp. Even in the past there were uncertainties in this regard. E.g., is the governing board internal or external? Payroll seems to be the only real separation. I am not sure of what use such a split would have in terms of analysis. Activity often cross organisational boundaries. In fact, it is mostly the case. E.g., to deliver a parcel will take at least two organisations. From an orgtology perspective, the validity of departments and divisions are rapidly diminishing. The world of work is connecting through cross-functional and cross-organisational teams. To make an internal / external split in this age of AI and integration makes no sense.
SWOT is also an oversimplified analysis tool. After one has figured out what is inside and what is out, one is left to one's imagination. Whatever good or bad comes to mind, one jots down. And when one finds a strength, one is not sure what to do with it, because if it can be improved or expanded, then not having done so yet, will make it a weakness.
ROET is an orgtology tool, thus its focus is on the receptive / projective movement that maintains Org. By understanding ROET, we will know how to transform our operations. This will help us to design effective strategy. Since a central hypothesis (hypothesis 2x) anchors all orgtology theory, we can analyse numerous receptive/projective relationships. These include leadership and management, strategy and operations, efficiency and effectiveness, systems and human intelligence, relevance and performance, etc.
We can respectively grasp the functions of management and leadership through receptive and projective activity. All activity below the inverse ROET line is receptive, and all above is projective. The receptive parts of ROET relate to management, performance, and operations. The projective parts of ROET relate to leadership, relevance, and strategy. Org has full control of its receptive parts; thus, managers will communicate to get things done. Contrariwise, the projective parts of ROET must be influenced, thus leaders will have to negotiate to change things.
If a manager's key output is efficiency, then his/her core work will be to connect activity. This is so since one can only achieve efficiency by organising activity. When we map this to the receptive part of the ROET window, we can make the following assumptions about connecting activity:
If the outcome of leadership is effectiveness, then his/her core work is to negotiate with people. This is because effectiveness is about influencing people that one does not necessarily control. When we map this to the projective part of the ROET, we can make the following assumptions about negotiating with people:
There are numerous assumptions that we can make when we relate management and leadership to ROET:
According to Hypothesis 2x, Org must maintain an equilibrium between the energy that it respectively spends on its relevance and its performance. From an orgtology perspective we drive performance through efficiently managing our operations. In so we secure relevance through effectively leading our strategy.
From the attached ROET-based Ven diagram one can make the following assumptions:
These ROET-based assumptions guide us to pinpoint and fix problems. E.g., if threats are not mitigated, then we know that either operations are not performing, or strategy is not relevant. We mitigate operational risks though processes (efficiency) and we ensure that business continues through strategy (effectiveness). In so, mitigated risks are a result of performing operations and relevant strategy.
At core to all these relations is the Relevant and Performing Organisation (RPO). To maintain an RPO, one must constantly assess ROET data and its analysis. ROET is an organisational health check. It ensures that we know what the reality of Org is.
The aim of ROET is to understand the reality of Org. We do this by understanding how Org relates to other entities, how able it is to stay relevant, how well its processes run, and how conscious it is about the threats it faces. In so, ROET analyses relationships, opportunities, efficiency, and threats.
To do a ROET analysis can be vastly complex or extremely simple. Like any research, the depth of knowledge that the researcher wants to attain will guide the complexity of the analysis. Following are a few ways to analyse ROET. Important to note is that one method does not exclude the other. We can mix and match as we deem fit.
Here we will develop a detailed questionnaire around the four dimensions of ROET. Short questionnaires mostly require a lot of research on the organisational performance model and its strategy. For this reason, consulting firms mostly circulate long questionnaires. It is efficient for them to create a generic questionnaire that covers everything. I write on the compilation of a ROET questionnaire in another essay. It is preferable to send the ROET questionnaire to all stakeholders. This brings another complication, in that not all stakeholders will add the same perceptual value. E.g., The governing board would be able to give a much broader perspective on opportunities and threats than frontline staff. This is because they have influence and access to data beyond the grasp of most frontline staff. Contrarywise, frontline employees can give a much wider perspective on process efficiency. There are several affordable software applications that can deal with these complexities. Personally, I use Survey Monkey for more complex questionnaires, whilst I use Google Forms for simpler surveys.
Interviews and focus groups:
Interviews and focus groups work best after sending the questionnaires. The questionnaires will give one a general idea of where the problem exists. One can then probe deeper by talking to the right people and groups. Of course, this method can also be used independently. In consulting we mostly send questionnaires to all employees, interview the Exco Team and Board Members, and run focus groups with stakeholder segments. This is the most effective way to analyse ROET.
A quick way to get ROET info is simply to draw a four-box window frame on a flip chart board and then to brainstorm issues around each of the ROET items. I discuss this method below under "Doing a quick ROET analysis".
Discussion during meetings:
I encourage my clients to make ROET part of their meeting agenda. This is crucial for executive teams to do. No special techniques needed. Its simply a discussion around relationships, opportunities, efficiency, and treats. The discussion could revolve around the larger organisation, or it can focus on a specific unit, process, or project. In my experience, ROET-trained managers will increase their efficiency when working with problems and issues.
PESTLE is an analysis technique that works well when probing opportunities and threats. This is because opportunities and threats are mostly beyond the control scope of Org. In so, to influence them Org must negotiate. PESTLE stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental aspects of an entity. To combine PESTLE with ROET, we ask, "what are the PESTLE opportunities?" and "what are the PESTLE threats?" This will guide us on where to look.
Another technique that aids the analysis of opportunities and threats are Michael Porter's five forces. These are (1) competitive rivals, (2) new market entrants, (3) suppliers, (4) customers, and (5) substitute products. Porters' forces work well where profitability is important. As with PESTLE, we ask, "what opportunities do these forces afford us?" and "which threats do they pose?"
The quickest way to do a ROET analysis is to draw four windows and then populate each window with data on ROET. This could be part of a brainstorming session or a conversation.
Questions that could guide us to grasp relationship dynamics:
Questions that could guide us to work with opportunities:
Questions that could guide us to grasp process efficiency:
Questions that could guide us to work with threats:
These questions give mere guidance and by no means provide a comprehensive list. What we ask will depend on problem and context. In many cases we ask completely different things.
Attached is an example of a workplace survey that shows problems between management and employees. Mostly relationship dynamics and threats will depict the problem scenario, whilst opportunities and process efficiency guide solutions.
ROET gives us a base to understand the reality of Org. This is the first step to change. It is also the first step for taking leadership. The better we understand, the better we can resolve.
One can use the tool during a quick conversation or in a detailed analysis. Where organisations integrate ROET thinking into their culture, it should enhance their ability to solve problems, maintain relationships, exploit opportunities, increase their efficiency, and minimise threats.
A key question within Org should always be: "Have we done the ROET?"
© 2021-07-20: Derek hendrikz