I’m willing to bet that your company does not look or operate the same way today as it did a few months ago.
Even without COVID, our organizations are changing and evolving, which is a good thing.
Over the past few months I’ve written a series of articles exploring topics like The Future of Work, The Evolution of Leaders, The Evolution of the Employee, and the Ten Principles of The Future Leader.
Today I want to introduce the 14 Principles of the Future Organization which was something I originally developed for my previous book, The Future of Work. The concepts in that book are just now becoming mainstream.
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 away from organizations “command and conquering” to instead focusing on small and more widely distributed teams around the world, especially as a result of COVID. Even before COVID it wasn’t 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.
Organizations like Amazon are also implementing the famous “two pizza rule.” If a team can’t be fed by two large pizzas, then the team is 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 any organization and EVERY company today is a technology company. I wrote about this in a previous article called The 12 Principles of Collaboration.
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. They need to have the scrappiness and resourcefulness that entrepreneurs have.
Operates like a small company
A small company makes decisions quickly, isn’t bogged down by bureaucracy, and is 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, having meetings about having meetings, and basically operating 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. This is done via employee experience.
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. Remember, that things will never be as slow as they are now.
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 leadership roles
There are nowhere near enough women in senior leadership roles at companies around the world. This means that most companies are missing out a talent pool that brings with it a new set of skills, mindsets, and perspectives. Consider that 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 crushing it over the next few years, more than they are now! 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 them, to 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. Telling stories is also crucial for purpose and meaning.
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 outdated today. Most corporate learning management systems are virtually obsolete and the content stored on them is scripted, boring, and dated.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, diversity and inclusion, 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.
How many of these 14 principles does your organization put into practice?
Leadership is changing. What are the skills and mindsets you need to master in order to lead in the new world of work? According to over 140 of the world’s top CEOs there are 4 mindsets and 5 skills that leaders need to master. Learn what they are and hear directly from these leaders by downloading the PDF here.
If you enjoyed the article and want more content like this here’s what you can do:
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