Times have changed. But what are we doing about it?
We are trapped in the industrial revolution! Yes, we all recognize the world has changed dramatically, but the way we think about work is still based on principles set more than 100 years ago (waaay before the internet, the i-phone, and AI). As recently written by Jeff Schwartz, a partner in Bersin by Deloitte, “there needs to be a new set of rules—rules that reflect the shift in mind-set and behavior required to lead, organize, motivate, manage, and engage the 21st-century workforce”. These are exciting times for HR entrepreneurs! As the world of work changes in fundamental ways, we are here, in the midst of it all, having the opportunity to co-create the future. We have the mission to build tomorrow’s tools today, and tomorrow’s tools aren’t just about new technologies. Tomorrow’s tools are those which go back to the foundations of organizational thinking to reshape them. Our opportunity is to set the new rules by providing the technological tools to support them.
For example, the old set of rules states that leadership equals management, and that decision-making processes should be made top-down. These old set of rules are best visualized as a hierarchy (yep, that org. chart). On the contrary, the new set of rules see leadership in every corner of the organization, and focuses on bottom-up processes and emergence. The best way to visualize the ‘new rules organization’ is as a dynamic network of connected individuals. Unlike hierarchies, ‘the networked organization’ is about informal connections – the ones that happen between ‘people’ and not between ‘roles’. It is through these informal relations that the real organizational structure emerge. The challenge is that no one can control the emerging structure, and not having control is a scary thing for organizations with the old set of rules as their guidance. As indicated by Gary Hamel in Fortune “The basic architecture of large-scale human coordination hasn’t changed much since Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt… In one form or another, this (i.e. hierarchy) has been one of humanity’s most enduring social structures.” Are we able to move organizations from the historic hierarchical mindset? What are the technological tools for the new set of rules?
This is our challenge, and our opportunity! It is our opportunity to think beyond efficiency and effectiveness of the formal, hierarchical organization and foster the informal, dynamic networked organization needed in a VUCA world. For example, startups like Emerj (Chedva Kleinhandler) and StarLinks (my startup) provide technological tools to promote bottom-up processes, build cross-organizational connections, and drive a value-creation culture. For example, by providing people analytics and personalized guidance to every person in the organization, StarLinks promotes effective, agile, and dynamic organizational networks bottom-up. It is my belief that the organizations of tomorrow will need more answers, more practical and scalable solutions that will help them move from the top-down control-based mindset into a bottom-up networked organizations. These are exciting times for HR entrepreneurs willing to take on the challenge and shape the organizations of tomorrow! Are you in?