CORPEI is the acronym of the components of the model:
- Roles / Responsibilities
- Processes / Procedures / Plans
- Equipment / Education
- Individual Contribution / Interpersonal issues
The model is derived from the SGRPI model developed by Richard Beckhard and Irwin Rubin.
Where the SGRPI-model initially is designed to prevent or manage conflicts in teams, the CORPEI model has been broadened to help create the conditions for success for any team or individual. It can be used by managers and coaches to identify sources of underperformance or conflict.
I’ve used it successfully in multiple business contexts. I’ve trained it to many managers and it helps them with their daily work. As an exercise, it’s useful to ask the team to identify some current issues and analyze them with the model.
Basic assumptions of the model
- A hierarchy of factors influences performance – since all components influence each other this hierarchy is not absolute;
- The root cause of a problem is often at a higher level;
- Team and individual performance will be highest if there is alignment between all levels as well as within each level;
- The first five factors (CORPE) are the responsibility of managers (some of them can be delegated), the performance and collaboration of Individuals is the result. In this way, the model is a good tool to bring humility to managers who tend to be blaming and invites them to look at their own contribution first.
The context is defined by all the external factors that influence the organization, team or individual.
- In his book “Power in and around Organizations”, Mintzberg has demonstrated that if the board of an organization is in conflict, this conflict will also be visible within the organization.
- In organizations that aim for “customer intimacy”, the internal departments use the same strategic approach towards their internal customers. Similarly, organizations that have a Cost Leadership strategy will reflect that cost awareness in all their activities.
- The economic context (growth or recession) is another example of an impact factor.
- At individual level, all above CORPE factors can be considered as context.
Key questions around Context factors
- What is our environment and how is it evolving?
- What do we need to do to adapt to our environment?
- Who are our shareholders? What is the evolution of their priorities?
- Who are our customers and consumers, what are their needs & wishes?
- Who are our competitors, what is their positioning?
- What coalitions are possible?
- Who are our suppliers, what can they contribute?
- What are PESTLE evolutions (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal Environmental)?
The objectives are made up of elements like: desired outcomes & outputs, vision, mission, purpose, focus of the people in the organization. The way they are defined can be a root cause of sub optimization or conflict. Project scoping is also part of this activity.
- In one organization, there were conflicting goals between Procurement (mainly focused on the cost of the incoming goods) and manufacturing (mainly focused on the quality of the incoming goods). Both had different targets without an overarching goal.
- In another organization, there was an ongoing discussion what to aim for: larger batch sizes in manufacturing or shorter lead times with room for last minute customer requests.
- An employee got an important goal where support from other departments was required, none of the members in his multidisciplinary team had targets related to his goal.
Key questions around objectives
- What are our main desired Outcomes / Outputs?
- What do we want to achieve?
- How aligned is each objective with the other objectives?
- How aligned are our objectives with the other components in our organization?
- How well are our objectives understood?
- How engaging and compelling are our objectives?
Roles & responsibilities
Roles and responsibilities clarify how the work is distributed in organizations and teams.
- In matrix organizations, I’ve witnessed discussions between business and functional leaders about who has the final say in decisions. Similarly, I’ve also witnessed situations where neither manager was willing to take responsibility for a clear customer request.
- When an R&D department temporarily moved to another location due to refurbishment of their premises, the security services were not moving along. Nobody took up this responsibility while everyone in the team acknowledged this was an important item.
Key questions around roles and responsibilities
- What is done by each specific department/site in the organization?
- What is done by each specific person in the team?
- How aligned is each role with the other roles?
- How aligned are our roles with the other components in our organization?
- What are the implications of working in a matrix structure?
Processes, Procedures & Project Plans
Processes and Procedures are relevant for “Business as usual”, they ensure that repetitive actions (routines) are executed as lean as possible. Project Plans are relevant for first of a kind initiatives that are not yet (and most probably never will be) routine activities. In highly automated environments, we could also add “(computer) Programs” to this above list as in many cases the software tools define the way of working and the related degrees of liberty.
- The product development, procurement and quality procedures in an organization were all developed within their own functional silos. As a consequence, there were constant conflicts about what course of action to follow.
- The procedure for opening a vacancy was so elaborate that nobody followed it. As a consequence, important information was missing and mistakes were made.
Key questions around processes, procedures & project plans
- What processes and project plans do we have in place?
- How aligned is each process / project with the other processes / projects?
- How aligned are our processes / projects with the other components?
Equipment & Education
Equipment covers all tools that help the individual to perform like machines, materials, manuals, training, time, support, etc. Because of the importance of knowledge & skills required for doing a good job, the term Education has explicitly been added.
- After 1 month it was clear that the newcomer was both underperforming and completely demotivated about his job. It turned out that nobody took the effort of explaining the ways of working in the department.
- The project was very ambitious yet the steering committee forgot to check whether the team members got sufficient time to manage the requirements while members had another ongoing responsibility (this is example of a root cause higher up).
Key questions around equipment and education
- Do we have the equipment in place that enhances our performance?
- How aligned is our equipment with the other components in our organization?
- How aligned is our education with the other components in our organization?
Individual contribution & Interpersonal Conflicts
In the end, it’s (small groups of) individuals who have to ensure that the operations in an organization run smoothly. Where the above factors condition the behaviors of these individuals, of course each individual also has a personal impact.
- Alanis, responsible for personnel administration, made many mistakes. Her focus clearly was elsewhere. Her personality style didn’t match with the detailed work. When moved to the recruitment department, she performed better and was happier.
- A conflict between the sales rep and the manufacturing manager was investigated. The root causes were at the level of objectives, mainly around pricing and costs.
Key questions around individual contribution
- How aligned are the individuals in each team?
- How aligned are they to the other components in our organization?
- If there is a performance issue related to the person, is it rather:
- The CORPE conditions are not in place to perform?
- The person is not WILLING to contribute?
- The person is not ABLE to contribute?