If digitalizing a corporation were about signing a check to purchase technology, productivity in Spain, and across many countries, would have exploded long ago.
Unfortunately it is not such an easy call. While many managers are still asking themselves about the What (fair question in many industries as many industries are still inmune to digital transformation), some others are already wondering about the How.And the answer to the How is simply or-ga-ni-za-tion.
Regardless of their size, whether we talk about a ten or five thousand people, organziations are perfectly designed to deliver the results they actually deliver. However, if you pretend to change the results the company is delivering (for instance as a consequence of rapid behaviour changes among customers) well, guess what change needs to be addressed.
And I do not mean by that the classic organizational chart box shuffle (or its newer Post-it wall fantasy version) but the real essence behind the inner organizational design.Probably the last time organizational charts were shaken for good was in the nineties along the line of globalization and matrix reporting. And eventually prior to that when Brand Managers were invented in the seventies.
But something has changed along the way. It seems that the speed of change driven by technology implies a certain level of uncertainty that companies simply can not cope with. Although not everyone agrees with the celerity approach, uncertainty is not a novelty in organizations. In the early seventies NASA dared to challenge stiff structures with operational schemes we could nowadays call “Scrum”? in order to face the unknown ahead. Very similar to what many industries face right now across the globe.
Meanwhile more and more employees get bored at work: because they feel the disconnection between what they do and what they really want to do, but fundamentally because they dislike How they do it.Because knowledge is not spread top-down any longer.
Because it is boring to write emails cc irrelevant people for that decision.
Because it is easier to ask a question through Whatsapp than writing a memo. Because meetings shorten the human average lifespan. Because Slack is cool. Because Jira avoids committees. Because well designed intranets mingle employees and foster creativity.
But just as organizations need to evolve in order to adapt to new habits, principles and values…so need leaders. That means all of us.
Leading in the digital era (I honestly dislike e-leadership as a definition), requires changes. To start with we should start by changing leadership practices.
Let’s just put behind the determinist idea that we are all born with a certain DNA leadership skill that we simply apply wherever we go. Technology development, globalization and financial crisis have shaped an irreversible shift in our habits.
Why would we lead people who are essentially different from a few years ago exactly in the same way as we used to? Leadership has evolved from a transactional mindset (I give you money in exchange for your hard work) to a transformational one where such topics as transparency, autonomy, ethics or sociability are the currency.
This is why I urge you to answer these three questions that represent the core of organizational design if you really want to transform your company, your environment or even yourself:
- How to Work
- How to Organize
- How to Lead
This is what we call organizational design and I support the idea that organizational design is the new competitive advantage in the digital era. Because depending on your ability to answer these three key questions you could turn your workplace into a real company asset.
During the industrial era organizational design was not a hot topic. But today, the way you wire your business activity regardless whether you are a ten or five thousand people is key to success. Your organization’s design will affect your happiness, your professional development and your company’s success. And technology is what stands behind these changes, transforming our habits or through new productivity tools. Technology as a facilitator.
And in order to enjoy this huge opportunity for your company and especially for yourself, here you are some good readings to ease your mind.
- For an entertained and productive while: How Google Works.
- If you wish to grasp how effective teams work: Teaming
- For those disliking other departments: The Silo effect
- For the brave and fantasy driven: Holacracy
- For complex minds: Reinventing organizations
These are all very updated readings
- Finally for those who really want to go deep into organizational design: White Paper DMP.
If you want to move technology back to where it belongs from a critical perspective Reclaiming Conversation from the famous author who also wrote Alone Together. Not read it yet but strongly recommended by the Financial Times.
2016 is going to be a great year.