The Big Picture of Business: Institutional Reviews Help Public Companies to Learn from the Downturn and Move Forward

An Institutional Review is a look at activities that contribute to an organization’s success and well-being. This transcends a traditional audit and identifies factors that already contribute well to the organization, rather than simply looking for ways to cut, curtail or penalize. It is more than just trimming the fat and criticizing incorrect activities in the organizational structure.

This review is the basis for most elements that will appear in a strategic plan, including the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, actions, challenges, teamwork, change management, commitment, future trends and external forces.

These are the points at which every company must assess its own status and chart the process forward:

The Big Picture

  • The organization is not now what it started out to be.
  • There seems to be a need to change the direction of the organization.
  • Management is concerned that resources are not concentrated on important things.
  • Management of the organization seems tired or complacent.


  • Management is cautious and uncertain about the company’s future.
  • The company has grown too rapidly.
  • No-growth or slow-growth has occurred.
  • There is a need to step up growth and improve profitability.

People – Productivity

  • Apathy, low productivity and discord are exhibited.
  • Management seeks perspective and needs to be recharged.
  • There is the need to develop better information to help management make better decisions.
  • Individuals are more concerned about their own areas than for the overall organization.


  • There is a sense that company operations are out of control.
  • Management expresses a need for better internal coordination of company activities.


  • External forces threaten the status quo…and open up new opportunities.
  • The environment in which the organization competes is rapidly changing.

What a Review Could Include:

Among the components and professional specialties that could be represented in a performance review, per each branch on the Business Tree, include:

  • Branch 1: Core business, core industry.
  • Branch 2: Environmental, safety, IT systems design and computer software, training for computers and technology, architecture, engineering and legal
  • Branch 3: Accounting, banking, investments, financial planning, benefits programs, real estate, fund raising for non-profit organizations and investor relations services for public companies.
  • Branch 4: Training for diversity, team building, professional education and development, motivational and executive development-mentoring. Human resource administration, employee testing, behavioral research, executive search, talent pools, reorganizations, downsizing, executive outplacement, labor issues and negotiating.
  • Branch 5: Sales strategy, sales training, marketing strategy, customer service, advertising, direct marketing, public relations, special events, video production, promotional specialties, graphic design-production and website design-production.
  • Category 6: Business performance reviews, research, quality management programs, government relations, public policy, community relations and re-engineering.
  • Category 7: Corporate strategy, visioning, strategic planning, futurism, thought leader program and emerging business issues.

Expected Results of an Institutional Review:

  • Your service is efficient and excellent, by your standards and by the publics. You are sensitive to the public’s needs, and you are flexible and human in meeting them.
  • Your staff is likeable and competent. They demonstrate initiative and use their best judgment, with authority to make the decisions they should make.
  • You have a good reputation and are awake to community obligations. You contribute much to the economy. You provide leadership for progress, rather than following along.
  • You always give your customers their money’s worth. Your charges are fair and reasonable.
  • You are in the vanguard of your industry.
  • You provide a good place to work. You offer a promising career and future for people with ideas and initiative. Your people do a day’s work for a day’s pay.
  • The size of your organization is necessary to do the job demanded of you. Your integrity and dependability make the public confident that you will use your size and influence rightly.

What Well-Run Companies Accomplish:

  • Prestige or favorable image…and its benefits.
  • Promotions of products and sales.
  • Good will of the employees.
  • Prevention and solution of labor problems.
  • Fostering the good will of communities in which the company has units.
  • Good will of the stockholders, board of directors, and owners.
  • Overcoming misconceptions and prejudices.
  • Good will of suppliers.
  • Good will of government.
  • Good will of the rest of your industry.
  • Attraction of others into the industry.
  • Ability to attract the best personnel.
  • Education of the public to the purposes and scope of the product.
  • Education of the public to a point of view.
  • Good will of customers (and their friends and colleagues).
  • Seeing that the industry is properly represented in the curricula of schools and colleges.
  • Assisting educators in teaching about the industry.
  • Creating public support for legislative proposals that the industry favors or public opposition to legislation that it opposes.
  • Obtaining public recognition for the social and economic contributions that the industry makes.
  • Addressing outside interference or competition with the industry.
  • Public understanding of the regulation of the industry by the government, in order to assure equitable treatment.
  • Consumer understanding of how to use the product.

Grounding Factors for Business:

Being stable does not mean that an organization stands still. Upholding traditions does not necessarily mean that one vehemently resists change. Being a family run company does not mean that outside stakeholders do not exist. Lawyers go to school to study the law, not how to become a lawyer and run a legal practice. The same analogy holds true for accountants, engineers, doctors and architects. All are taught professional skills but must absorb along the way the business talents necessary to run their practices.

Authority figures must be effective disciplinarians. They must also be recognizable role models in order to inspire commitment from their team members. The best leaders are adept at the balancing acts of business priorities. Organizations are collections of individuals, team clusters, operating units, departments, management philosophies and ideologies.

To gauge the company’s future direction and avoid roadblocks to success, independent reviews must be conducted. The objective is to benefit from changes, rather than become the victim of them. By spotting trends and recognizing inner strengths of your existing company, you can compete and excel more effectively than without any strategy at all.

About the Author

Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations worldwide (including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations). He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoke at five Economic Summits. He guides companies through growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism and Big Picture issues which profoundly affect the business climate. He conducts company evaluations, creates the big ideas and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree™ is his trademarked approach to growing, strengthening and evolving business, while mastering change. To read Hank’s complete biography, click here.

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