Over the past few months I’ve been sharing a series of posts on the 7 Principles of the Future Employee and the Evolution of the Employee. This was followed by the 10 Principles of the Future Manager followed by the Evolution of the Manager. Today I want to introduce the 14 Principles of the Future Organization (which will eventually be followed up by the Evolution of the Organization). This is a concept that is taken from my latest book on The Future of Work and one that I feel is quite important. We are seeing an amazing evolution around how we work, how we lead, and how we structure our companies. These are the 14 Principles of the Future Organization.
Globally distributed with smaller teams
We are absolutely seeing a shift towards organizations “command and conquering” where they are distributed their real-estate and their employees among various pockets around the world. It’s not unusual to see a single employee working in a remote location just so the company can say they have an “office” there. Talent is no longer dependent on proximity to the corporate headquarters. In addition the Jeff Bezos “two pizza rule” is a must in order to allow employees to actually get work, that is, a team should be able to be fed by two pizzas, if the team is larger than “two pizzas” it’s too big.
A company cannot have a distributed workforce unless that workforce is able to stay connected with the right people and information; anytime, anywhere, and on any device. This means deploying the right collaborative technologies that enable this to happen. Technology is the central nervous system of an organizaiton.
The same spirit, passion, and creativity that entrepreneurs have must also be fostered inside of organizations. Employees should be able to test out ideas, run experiments, pitch new projects, and “run” with the ones that have potential.
Operates like a small company
A small company make decisions quickly, isn’t bogged down by bureaucracy, and are more agile and adaptable. In a rapidly changing world organizations cannot operate as their stereotypical “larger selves” where employees spend all their time checking emails, have meetings about having meetings, and basically operate at the speed of sludge.
Focuses on “want” instead of “need”
Organizations used to assume that employees worked there because they needed to. Today, talented employees are seeing all sorts of opportunities to make a living beyond traditional employment. This means that in order to attract top talent organizations must create an environment where employees actually WANT to be there instead of assuming that they NEED to be there.
Adapts to change faster
Today, “late followers” means “out of business.” Years ago it was acceptable to see what other companies were doing and being a “fast follower,” not so today. Decisions have to made faster and actions need to be more swift. This isn’t just an adaptation to technology either, new behaviors entering the workforce are also crucial to pay attention to and embrace.
Innovation no longer comes from a team, a department, or from a few people at the top of the food chain. In order to succeed in a rapidly changing world innovation must have the ability to come from anywhere including outside of the company. “Idea” and “innovation” are also two different things. Ideas happen all the time but the process of taking that idea and turning into something is innovation. Does your organization enable anyone to come forward with an idea and then give them the opportunity to turn that idea into something?
Runs in the cloud
On-premise technologies have a shelf life and their days are surely numbered. How much longer do you think your company can sustain it’s on-premise deployments before falling behind every single other competitor that is able to adapt to technological change faster than you? Three years? five years? Maybe ten years? Stall as much as you want but the “future organization” runs in the cloud.
More women in senior management roles
There are nowhere near enough women in senior management and leadership roles at companies around the world . This means that most companies are missing out and an increase talent pool with access to new skills and perspectives. Women have the majority of purchasing power, will soon become the majority of the world’s population, will soon earn more than men, and will quite frankly end up kicking ass in the next few years. The forward thinking organizations recognize the value of having more women in senior level roles and are taking actions to help encourage and support this.
No organization that I am aware of has ever embarked on a journey to create a more hierarchical structure with more layers, more management, more bureaucracy, and less collaboration. Yet this is the stereotypical idea of what a strict hierarchy looks like and how it operates. Some structure within an organization is good but there needs to be a balance between being completely flat and being a pyramid. In other words structure is fine provided that it serves the purpose of helping employees understand where they fit within the company and what the relationship structure looks like. However, this structure doesn’t mean that everything flows “top down.” Communication and collaboration flows up, down, and side to side.
Oftentimes organizations focus on telling stories to customers to build relationships with the, elicit an emotional response, align with customer values, and get them to buy something. But it’s also crucial to tell stories to employees as well. Employees want to work for organizations that they believe in and whose values align with their own there is no better way to do this than through telling stories about how the company started, why it exists, and where it’s going.
In most companies today, if you want to learn something you have to book a class or a training session, oftentimes days or weeks in advance. Learning is a very structured and linear process which is completely outdate today. For the future organization any employee is able to act as a teacher or student that can learn from colleagues anytime and anywhere. Of course, this is largely facilitated through the use of collaborative technologies.
Shifts from profits to prosperity
Profit is just the financial gain that an organization receives and it’s the primary measure of success for most of them. Prosperity on the other hand looks beyond just how much money a company makes and looks at things such as employee health and wellness, community involvement, sustainability, and making a positive impact on the world. These are the values and attributes that the future organization must and will possess.
Adapts to the future employee and the future manager
It goes without saying that the organization of the future must adapt to the changes we are seeing around how employees work and how managers lead. Both of these are things discussed in previous posts which were mentioned above.