Organisations are changing


By Ed Layt

Or at least they should be. Operating environments are changing at breakneck speed and the last few months have brought this into real focus. But this isn’t a new phenomenon. Society is changing, what people want, expect and value is changing. And subsequently, the way brands are perceived, the way people want to work and who they want to work for is changing too.

Organisational structures must transform in order to better meet and satisfy customer needs. But the velocity and acceleration of change highlights how traditional structures and operating systems are outdated in their effectiveness. In fact, they are becoming damaging to organisational performance and employee experience.

The way things are done – the tower

The way organisations are structured are still (on the whole) formal, hierarchical, bureaucratic and subsequently slow to respond. Those with decision-making power are often the furthest away from the customer and decisions flow downward through the organisation. Subsequently change is slow, directional and often misguided. Just look at your organisation chart, it probably looks like a tower with endless layers and groups of siloed functional teams who act on instruction.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Look at how your organisation actually works when things go really well (and quickly). It’s often down to smaller groups of cross functional experts who are focused on a specific task/customer need. So how can that behaviour and structure be replicated across the organisation to create adaptable, collaborative and customer-focused ways of working?

The way things could be done – the organism

Adaptability and siloed functional groups just don’t go hand in hand. To solve problems and respond to customer needs effectively, we must bring together the right experts for the job and get them to operate in focused teams maximising informal networks of influence and connection. If you were to visualise an organisation working in this way, you’d see the organic links between individuals across the business – spanning beyond their functional group. This would resemble a dynamic organism (not the tower of the past) as teams emerge to focus on tasks – quick to react and accountable for end-to-end delivery.

Not only does this way of working enhance adaptability, speed, customer-alignment and ultimately business performance. It also makes for more engaged, empowered, influential and valued employees.

This heightened employee experience will support the acquisition and retention of the best talent, but recruitment processes and the way we view talent will need to change too. We must better recognise diverse skill sets and opportunities for individuals to add value in different circumstances. And to remain authentic and attractive, our purpose, culture and customer must become central to our recruitment and onboarding programmes.

So how can you get there?

We’ll be continuing this content series over the coming months. But here’s just a taster.

This way of working is probably already occurring organically, but organisations must recognise these natural interactions and then develop communities, communications and reporting structures that facilitate and reinforce these behaviours.

People Analytics, and specifically Organisational Network Analysis is a structured way to visualise, understand and evaluate the connections between people and see how communications, information, and decisions flow through an organisation.

This analysis is the first step in identifying where current challenges reside around collaboration, decision-making and customer responsiveness. Only then can you begin to design and build high performing network-based teams to work adaptably and efficiently – through a shift in culture, a shift in where information is distributed and where influence is determined.

If any of the themes explored here have sparked interest, get in touch. We’d love to explore your networks and help your organisation change for the better.