Developing an adaptive organization

Stable organizational hierarchies, consistent decision-making and functional silos will help order if the transition is predictable, to achieve full performance. But conventional models of organization cannot keep up in an age of rapid transition. What we begin to see about the architecture and function of adaptable organizations. How do you adapt your company to the problems and possibilities of the age of knowledge?

Technological progress occurs at fire pace, having shocking results across organizations, talent, society and almost every part of an organization’s existence. When leaders are responding to the transition and anticipating it, they frequently build “what if” thinking in the organization’s choice: What if we expanded next year? What if another business is acquired?

The very real problem with this practice lies in the fact that any serious choice of company based on predicting what might be done will quickly prove to be incorrect. It may be entirely unfounded what was meaningful a few months earlier. There is no question why too many companies wish to be flexible in their designs.

Both official and informal organizations have to align customer-oriented missions. Traditionality also forces the organization, without recognizing the effect on human networks, to operate exclusively and in a matrix environment. Instead, companies can uncover the connection between teams and customers, then create multi-disciplinary teams, groups, reports and means of contact to encourage these human experiences. At the same time, consumer adaptability and scaled effectiveness are managed by adaptable organizations. They realize that both are needed and that the use of functional, cross-functional, integrated and dispersed teams is an appropriate mix.

Flexible governance structures are important to allow an adaptable organization. Governance enables adaptable work when bureaucracy is limited, decisions are transparent, and individuals are empowered. It is preferable to apply a testing and learning approach. A path to an adjustable organization, rather than a big bang, is a sequence of tiny, gradual improvements. Organizations have to determine how much a specific approach needs control, stability and agility.

Three way to enable change from bottom up

Three techniques for planting and cultivating “adaptive” qualities in all kinds of businesses or agencies were highlighted.

#1: Self-directed team development

The basis of every bottom-up change begins with self-motivated, self-directed teams’ empowerment. An excess of structure and rules tends to hinder the design and adaptability of those prior to the present information age, particularly where the structure is hierarchical. The most successful cooperation is cooperative, spontaneous and self-supervised in the experiences of many of the researchers. Good personal partnerships contribute to good cooperation, since it is difficult to cooperate with someone you are “commanded” to work with. “By mandate” teams have difficulty looking at their world from an open mind—conventional beliefs and approaches are highlighted. Smaller, self-generating communities will test the dominant paradigms and find innovative ways to respond to new opportunities and challenges.

#2: Connect the stovepipes through employee engagement

Our group’s next approach was to tackle the segmentation of agencies, branches and units within an organization.

If any entity collects vital information an organization cannot respond to new situations. The only way of building a complete understanding of the world and generating the right solutions is by the uncompromised sharing of thoughts and ideas among all groups and subgroups in the company. Many managers felt that various types of acts “connect the pipes’ ‘ could help. 

It involves developing “open standards for teams” in order to create trust, teamwork and exchange ideas around the company. Common means of communication, problem solving techniques and behavioral modes are needed to eliminate constraints on the efficient flow of information that is so essential to fully realize and respond to a changing world. This should include all departments in the company and extend across all corporate borders. A collective mission also contributes to unifying and encouraging other parts of an organization to adapt to a common goal.

#3: Create venues to practice adaptive thinking through employees

Innovation has to be created by leadership. Several leaders noted that you ought to form an organization’s framework so that workers can “think the box” in order to create different approaches. Many have written and reported on the need to build an organizational atmosphere where workers feel the psychological and logistical security to work together and explore fresh ideas – a “intellectual safe harbor,” with unknown prospects and ways to respond to unfamiliar situations or to anticipate them. 

The organization’s work is also established as “safe space for innovation”, but it is not usual, for instance, tiger teams or ‘greenfields.’ Just as critical as providing space and time is that the organization’s top levels (and managers at all levels) have to show a real willingness to listen to the proposals from above and around the organization.

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