“A wise man is strong, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.”
These wise words can be found in the Book of Proverbs, Ch 24:5 and the reason I quote them is not because I am pitching for the recent vacancy in the Vatican. The quotation is the basis for the modern-day phrase ‘knowledge is power’, a statement I will examine in the context of one of Zulu’s articles of faith – the concept of hub and spoke capability.
Every workplace is a mixture of experience, ranging from the new kid straight from school to the old hand who is approaching retirement. Within that experience is a tremendous range, which, if harnessed properly brings massive benefits to a company but if not can end up costing money in terms of lost time and missed opportunities.
Portfolio businesses have duplication of headcount and skills – many businesses have a number of operations, divisions or even separate businesses. Over time many of these businesses have built up ‘light’ internal capability which is then duplicated over a number of departments or the organisational structure. The problem with this approach is that it actually increases costs whilst reducing the technical and breadth of capability – in short the business is already spending a lot of money on keeping low-level compatibility in a number of locations across the business. Yet the fear of outsourcing raises the concern of confidentiality – not many CEOs relish the thought of bringing in outsiders with the potential loss of data or best practice to a competitor.
This battening down of the hatches is understandable but comes at a cost. This approach actually increases costs whilst reducing the technical and breadth of capability because the business is already spending a lot of money on keeping low-level compatibility in a number of locations across the business. This is an underutilisation of capability – as people are in a number of locations, wired in through a number of organisational reporting lines, they very rarely co-ordinate or work together. As the functions of these people are based at the tactical level and not the business strategic level they often have limited experience.
So, where does the concept of hub and spoke come in?
Hub and spoke provides a system of on-site account management that provides a shared service across the business.
Put another way, Zulu offers a centralised service with hub and spoke. A company comes to us and asks for our help and advice in co-ordinating the skills base at its disposal – wide and varied but spread out at different points across the organisation. We use high quality onsite marketing individuals with specialist skills only brought in on a consulting/freelance basis when a business needs them.
These individuals are the hubs, acting as an anchor for those different sections in the organisational wheel that are the spokes. The centralised function ensure the overall needs of the business as well as the subsets are met and resources effectively co-ordinated.
The benefits are thus:
- Wide and deep skills and capability access through off site resources
- Dedicated services to group / not a traditional outsources model!
- Cost effective through pay as you go access through a service level contract.
- Flexibility for business strategy as skills are not owned / but accessed
- Expandability – if need grow the capability can grow through wider network to meet demand
In summary, the hub and spoke concept harnesses the different strands and levels of knowledge that exist in an organisation.
Zulu’s person is at the hub and has the overview of those strands, being able to step back, assess and decide the best way of marrying them up for the benefit of the organisation.