English

German









Rethinking organization I: Building a responsive organization

Hierarchical organizational structures, routines, long-time planning and clear role definition: Attributes, that shaped the work environment for decades, leading back to the industrial era. Facing steady and stable conditions, predicting, planning, directing and controlling proved useful and efficient. Thus, the circumstances, in which organizations operate nowadays, shifted from predictability to uncertainty and constantly arising new challenges. It is no longer effective to plan the upcoming year months ahead, nor strictly delegate resources without allowing necessary flexibility. Things happen faster, changes occur more often and business areas and people are increasingly interconnected. Besides, the motivational drivers behind people’s choices on where to work, why to work and what to work for changed and many employees seek for a higher meaning in their work. What can organizations do in order to meet the needs of this environment and create a base to flourish despite uncertainty?

Rethinking organization I: Building a responsive organization

Hierarchical organizational structures, routines, long-time planning and clear role definition: Attributes, that shaped the work environment for decades, leading back to the industrial era. Facing steady and stable conditions, predicting, planning, directing and controlling proved useful and efficient. Thus, the circumstances, in which organizations operate nowadays, shifted from predictability to uncertainty and constantly arising new challenges. It is no longer effective to plan the upcoming year months ahead, nor strictly delegate resources without allowing necessary flexibility. Things happen faster, changes occur more often and business areas and people are increasingly interconnected. Besides, the motivational drivers behind people’s choices on where to work, why to work and what to work for changed and many employees seek for a higher meaning in their work. What can organizations do in order to meet the needs of this environment and create a base to flourish despite uncertainty?

What can organizations do?

One possible approach to answering this question is building a responsive organization. In practice, being responsive as an organization means to structure in a way that enables “to learn and respond rapidly through the open flow of information, encouraging experimentation and learning on rapid cycles”[1]. More precisely, a responsive organization adapts to the pace of change that accelerates today, facing diminishing predictability. This transformation requires adaptability and the ability to listen, learn and change according to the circumstances. Responsiveness can be achieved by working with smaller steps, more frequent changes, increased communication and using knowledge and data to form information-based decisions. Consequently, this leads to rising demand for adaptability in order to respond to changing conditions and increase positive impacts on various functional areas within the process of digital transformation. Despite the given changes that appear and tackle all aspects of daily life, companies mainly remain in their ways of operating. As a result, employees are increasingly disengaged and many companies struggled or failed completely over the past decade. Sticking to efficiency, profitability, controlling and planning is not per se wrong, but it does not meet the needs of the environment we face today.

What can organizations do?

One possible approach to answering this question is building a responsive organization. In practice, being responsive as an organization means to structure in a way that enables “to learn and respond rapidly through the open flow of information, encouraging experimentation and learning on rapid cycles”[1]. More precisely, a responsive organization adapts to the pace of change that accelerates today, facing diminishing predictability. This transformation requires adaptability and the ability to listen, learn and change according to the circumstances. Responsiveness can be achieved by working with smaller steps, more frequent changes, increased communication and using knowledge and data to form information-based decisions. Consequently, this leads to rising demand for adaptability in order to respond to changing conditions and increase positive impacts on various functional areas within the process of digital transformation. Despite the given changes that appear and tackle all aspects of daily life, companies mainly remain in their ways of operating. As a result, employees are increasingly disengaged and many companies struggled or failed completely over the past decade. Sticking to efficiency, profitability, controlling and planning is not per se wrong, but it does not meet the needs of the environment we face today.

Besides the challenges that arise in the work environment, organizations themselves face internal changes concerning employee engagement, motivational drivers among the team and value orientation. More and more employees belong to the group of digital natives, which has an impact on the patterns they work in and influences their expectations of a workplace. The younger generation values aspects such as frequent communication, a clear purpose and a vision that aligns with their personal values. A responsive organization needs to listen to employees’ needs, provide persistent and open communication and feedback tools in order to make sure to implement a people-centric leadership approach. Value orientation, clarity about the target, vision and sense of being part of a team are in this context important to succeed. Increased interconnectedness has major impacts on the way people work and organizations operate today. Offering networks and platforms that enable people to work faster, test ideas easier and elevate the power of information makes predictability very little and creates pressure. Despite these shifts and challenges, many organizations remain in their structures and systems instead of developing new and more appropriate ways of working.

Besides the challenges that arise in the work environment, organizations themselves face internal changes concerning employee engagement, motivational drivers among the team and value orientation. More and more employees belong to the group of digital natives, which has an impact on the patterns they work in and influences their expectations of a workplace. The younger generation values aspects such as frequent communication, a clear purpose and a vision that aligns with their personal values. A responsive organization needs to listen to employees’ needs, provide persistent and open communication and feedback tools in order to make sure to implement a people-centric leadership approach. Value orientation, clarity about the target, vision and sense of being part of a team are in this context important to succeed. Increased interconnectedness has major impacts on the way people work and organizations operate today. Offering networks and platforms that enable people to work faster, test ideas easier and elevate the power of information makes predictability very little and creates pressure. Despite these shifts and challenges, many organizations remain in their structures and systems instead of developing new and more appropriate ways of working.

This results in diminishing contentment of employees and in the end decreased productivity. The aim in this context is to not only restructure and reshape patterns within an organization, but enable these systems to become self-organizing and continuously adapting.

This results in diminishing contentment of employees and in the end decreased productivity. The aim in this context is to not only restructure and reshape patterns within an organization, but enable these systems to become self-organizing and continuously adapting.

The six pillars

First, employees and investors are not only concerned with profit anymore, rather, purpose has become increasingly important. Therefore, it has to be prioritized over profit since in the long term it decides about if people want to work in an organization or if they do not. Second, everyone is interconnected nowadays, so it is no longer useful to think and operate in silos but in networks. People can take on different roles and the connectedness can lead to interrelated networks across thematic, technological or geographic boundaries. Third, planning is no longer the key to success but rather hinders necessary adaptability. Quick learning, frequent feedback and testing proves more useful compared to plans. This points out the necessity of emergence instead of planning. Fourth, nevertheless, efficiency is always considered an important aspect for business. Thus, it should not be narrowly viewed as the most important one. It is noticeable that adaptivity receives increased recognition since it is associated with flexibility and thus simplified improvements. Fifth, controlling hinders productivity instead of enhancing it. In today’s environment it is more important to enable autonomy and encourage empowerment. In times of remote work and strength-oriented leadership approaches, self-empowerment is more useful than controlling. Sixth, as mentioned before, information and power of information experience increased importance. Combined with the fact that changes occur more often, predictability withdraws and the requirement of flexibility increases, we cannot know which information will be important in the future. Therefore, privacy of information is not effective anymore, since everybody needs access once any information suddenly emerges into an important one. Closely linked to transparency is the value of trust, since it is the base for expanding access to previously private information. Being transparent about information and processes within an organization increases both, internal and public trust.

The six pillars

First, employees and investors are not only concerned with profit anymore, rather, purpose has become increasingly important. Therefore, it has to be prioritized over profit since in the long term it decides about if people want to work in an organization or if they do not. Second, everyone is interconnected nowadays, so it is no longer useful to think and operate in silos but in networks. People can take on different roles and the connectedness can lead to interrelated networks across thematic, technological or geographic boundaries. Third, planning is no longer the key to success but rather hinders necessary adaptability. Quick learning, frequent feedback and testing proves more useful compared to plans. This points out the necessity of emergence instead of planning. Fourth, nevertheless, efficiency is always considered an important aspect for business. Thus, it should not be narrowly viewed as the most important one. It is noticeable that adaptivity receives increased recognition since it is associated with flexibility and thus simplified improvements. Fifth, controlling hinders productivity instead of enhancing it. In today’s environment it is more important to enable autonomy and encourage empowerment. In times of remote work and strength-oriented leadership approaches, self-empowerment is more useful than controlling. Sixth, as mentioned before, information and power of information experience increased importance. Combined with the fact that changes occur more often, predictability withdraws and the requirement of flexibility increases, we cannot know which information will be important in the future. Therefore, privacy of information is not effective anymore, since everybody needs access once any information suddenly emerges into an important one. Closely linked to transparency is the value of trust, since it is the base for expanding access to previously private information. Being transparent about information and processes within an organization increases both, internal and public trust.

These six pillars build a framework in order to transform into a responsive organization. To achieve this and address each of them, the following questions may help to reflect one’s organization:[2]

1. Are we pursuit of something meaningful? Do we all know our purpose and act accordingly?

2. Are we leveraging, growing, and serving networks of people and technology?

3. Are we planning too much and not testing-and-learning enough?

4. Are we over-engineering things – for efficiency, for control, or to preserve the status quo?

5. Are we pushing authority to the edge of the organization? Is it clear who has it?

6. Are we letting information flow? Is it improving our decisions? Are we tightly knit?

These six pillars build a framework in order to transform into a responsive organization. To achieve this and address each of them, the following questions may help to reflect one’s organization:[2]

1. Are we pursuit of something meaningful? Do we all know our purpose and act accordingly?

2. Are we leveraging, growing, and serving networks of people and technology?

3. Are we planning too much and not testing-and-learning enough?

4. Are we over-engineering things – for efficiency, for control, or to preserve the status quo?

5. Are we pushing authority to the edge of the organization? Is it clear who has it?

6. Are we letting information flow? Is it improving our decisions? Are we tightly knit?

These questions provide an overview that enables to manifest the current state of an organization. This can pave the path to become a responsive organization that meets the needs of today’s work environment and manages to flourish and succeed. After outlining the current state, the question of implementation arises. Therefore, use cases and practical instructions of how to implement these tools will follow in Part II.

These questions provide an overview that enables to manifest the current state of an organization. This can pave the path to become a responsive organization that meets the needs of today’s work environment and manages to flourish and succeed. After outlining the current state, the question of implementation arises. Therefore, use cases and practical instructions of how to implement these tools will follow in Part II.

Menu
BludauPartners
Executive Consultants GmbH
Voltastraße 31
60486 Frankfurt am Main

+49 69 3487390-0
+49 69 3487390-10
mail@bludaupartners.com