Future organizations are here to stay

Published 09 Jan 2020 ""

In the organizations of the future, hierarchies will become flatter, new cross-functional flows will be created, suitable talents will be identified, and collaborations will be streamlined. However, this requires insight into and certain readiness for the fact that profitability may decrease to begin with – and instead increase over time.

To face tomorrow, operations need to become more vision-driven, while also finding a balance between self-governance and co-governance. A shift needs to be made, and it becomes increasingly important that an organization works with a basis in a purpose and goal, joint values, and a clear vision that have been embraced by its employees. Each organization needs to find ways to unleash the power and potential throughout the organization and its surrounding networks.

“Change is the new everyday and for organizations that want to move forward it is important to capture lessons learned, disseminate them quickly internally, and do things differently next time. This requires an iterative work method, as well as daring to think and try new things – but most importantly that you evaluate things. Through dedicated governance, weekly evaluations in cross-functional teams, project reports, and new digital tools, you can quickly and effectively disseminate what is required in the organization,” says Fredrik Höök, management consultant at Knowit Insight, with long experience of change management and digital transformations.

Cross-functional teams for efficiency

Society is moving toward a significant decrease in the prevalence of hierarchies. At the same time, cross-functional flows with the right talent in the right place are increasing – so that collaborations can be facilitated and streamlined. Focusing on current needs and future demand, which we are often not sure about yet, is becoming even more vital.

“Cross-functional, operative flows require self-management, trust, delegation, and mapping of abilities, both internally and externally. As there is some uncertainty regarding the future needs for talent, organizations need to take an internal inventory now, to understand which competence is required at what stage. Another key question is if companies and organizations need to have a certain capability internally or if it can be identified and used through external partners or networks,” says Fredrik.

The task of creating cross-functional flows that work in the long term requires a certain amount of humility. Along the way, you need to make mistakes in order to succeed with moving forward in your development. Before an organization learns the cross-functional way of working, profitability often decreases. Still, it is important to dare take that step, in order to stay profitable and relevant, and succeed in the long term.

“Involving employees in the search for the right talent and competence is crucial, as they have so much knowledge and valuable input on what is required in various workflows and processes. The managers of the organization need to drive the work, with a clear direction, but also dare to delegate fully. You cannot control everything – nor is it desirable to do so. However, it is important to know what you don’t know and to actively try things out, learning as you go along,” says Fredrik.

Collaboration is difficult, but crucial

Effective collaboration is something that many organizations strive for – and effective collaboration is created mainly through trust. Without trust, many are wary of exploring and being curious about their surroundings, which is necessary if you want to move forward continuously. Organizations need a certain amount of flexibility to be able to quickly change direction when it is necessary and to dare try things out even if it means going into uncharted territory.

“One thing that the organizations of the future will need to improve continuously is their horizon scanning and keeping a close eye on what other entities in their sector are doing – but also raising their gaze and gathering inspiration from other sectors. There are no boundaries to curiosity and it can provide invaluable insights and ideas for your own organizational development. When the complexity in an organization becomes apparent, you need more employees with the right competence in the right place. In order to use their competence efficiently, functioning collaborations are vital for organizations that want to be at the cutting edge,” says Fredrik.

Change for the future

The organizations of the future are here to stay. To help you become more prepared for tomorrow, here are five inspirational tips:

  • Review the competences in different processes within the organization. The right competence in the right place simplifies and streamlines work in every stage. Remember that the right competence in the right place may also entail using external partners or networks.
  • Establish and communicate a clear vision and direction. Employees need to get information about and understand what kind of expectations there are and what it means to be part of the organization. Create involvement and use a consensus-based approach. A focus on a clear vision and working at the right level will lead to streamlining.
  • The most important tasks of the management are to create psychological safety, to show and build trust, and to delegate instead of focusing on micromanagement – making it even more important to follow up, reflect, and learn from past experiences. It is the task of the manager to match employees to create the best possible conditions for well-functioning teams. Giving all employees a sense of personal leadership is also crucial.
  • Create a permissive culture where it is okay to dare try something out and fail. It is important that managers and employees are humble about not knowing or being capable of everything.
  • Evaluate and review your current collaborations. How good and effective are they? Should new teams be created? Measure, offer support, evaluate, and make changes for the future. Streamlined collaboration is a key factor to success in the future.
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Helena Tronner
Head of Future Organization
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