If there is any question that management consultants are hired to do difficult projects, look at this – McKinsey & Company will help the CIA reorganize and restructure here.

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Apparently, the plan is for the CIA to go from a functional structure (with separate analysis vs. espionage units), to one that is more integrated by regional focus or topic. This is big talk for the CIA which has worked with the existing structure for decades.

“The overhaul is designed to foster deeper collaboration and an intensified focus on a range of security issues and threats, replacing long-standing divisions.”

“CIA veterans and experts described the restructuring as among the most ambitious since the agency was founded in 1947.”

Apparently, this was based off of the internal best practice of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) which gained influence and power after the September 11 attacks here. While this will be more of a matrix structure, it will also decentralize and accelerate some of the decision making.

Would you like this job?  Are you good enough to tell 21,000 spymasters how to do their work, and how they should be organized?  This is tough stuff, backed up by years of experience, a problem-solving framework, and a healthy dose of confidence.

Bring in the consultants.  As one client told me recently, “You cannot be a prophet in your home town, you have to hire outside experts”.  Even the most savvy client, needs some help from consultants.

“It’s probably a good thing to bring in outside perspective at a time when you’re doing something this challenging,” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

What will they recommend?  Take a look at McKinsey’s website and case studies; you will see some of the activities and likely recommendations here:

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the current organization and design
  • Highlight areas where the organization presents challenges, which might lie in its structure, linkages, or culture
  • Define criteria to guide the design process
  • Design tests help clients make choices on critical questions
  • Focus management attention on the strategic priorities and critical operations
  • Focus head office operations on value
  • Make sure all units have clear performance measures
  • Enable enterprise-wide collaboration
  • Remove complexity that creates unnecessary cost and organizational friction

While these activities might seem like a common sense approach to organizational issues, it is something the CIA is willing to pay McKinsey & Company $10M to fix.

See this larger McKinsey & Company compendium on organizational structures, designs and operating models.  From 2012, 82 pages, and 8.1Mb for download here.

The next time your client thinks they have it all figured out. . . remember that even the proud CIA knows how to reach out for consulting help when they need it.

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