What will organizations look like in the future?
I am fascinated by the cultural and structural dimensions that make up a company. You can have everything right: the right people, skills, funding, brand awareness, social following… and then it happens – you fail! why? Because companies are human eco-systems that live and breathe and if you haven’t deployed the proper one for your org, then it will die.
If you are wondering which organizational structure is best for you, this is a good place to start. Jacob Morgan has a new book coming out that goes through different org structures and explains how flattening the structure allows for more transparency and better collaboration.
His book is timely, as this is a very hot topic because the workforce is getting younger (yet older? Benjamin Buttoning?) and is changing, rapidly! So the question really becomes, “What does the younger workforce need to succeed?”. This isn’t a spoiled brat, Millennial question – it’s a serious question that needs to be addressed by large, mid-sized, public, private and startup companies. Our economy depends on thriving industry and if our workforce is not optimized, then innovation will suffer.
The times, they are a-changin’
|The young folk are taking over|
So, let’s look at this younger workforce. This workforce is much like a consumer (albeit, a younger one). That consumer seeks transparency, positive brand experience, social, and personalization. They want to consume this and they also want to work for and produce this.
Today’s workforce is getting more curious. This creates a push to be quicker, faster, nimbler, and smarter all with a need to satiate the workforce with the elements mentioned above.
So how do organizations respond to this need? I see a lot of bigger organizations trying to solve for this with different strategies and tactics like spin-offs, off-sites, PODs and even organizational structure shifts. But is that addressing the needs of the growing workforce?
Enter the Holacrazy’s
The video mentions holacracy (learn more). Holacracy aims to take away the individual’s power and give the authority to the role or job that needs to be completed. The individual (this could be anyone in the circle) needs to feed the task or job, which can be constantly updated. The hypothesis is that this takes away office politics and allows for greater contribution and collaboration from people focusing on the task at hand and not the hierarchical structure that needs be addressed before something is accomplished.
Holacracy is interesting because it “flattens” the org structure, gives transparency and forces personalization through group interactions and decision making. It may even capitalize on the social/friend element through the “circle’s” need to interact with other “circles”. Holacracy may even create a positive brand experience via intense internal collaboration. Interesting to say the least, however, still an untested structure.
The answer to all your problems…Maybe
If you’ve read The Silo Effect by Gillian Tett, you may wonder if this org structure can solve for silos. It certainly has the ability to break down the hierarchy and promote transparency. But does it generate functional territory that becomes the anti-collaboration battleground? It might, it might not. Silos can be necessary at times and its really about being able to recognize them and manage them – not necessarily, defeat them. Holacracy may bring about too much transparency, creating inner conflict and defeating its purpose of being a productive solution to traditional hierarchy. Again, time will tell.
Zappos has decided to take on this challenge and is (currently known to be) the largest company to shift to a holacratic structure (~1500 employees). I get their philosophy and as a leader in customer experience and employee satisfaction, this is a big risk, for Zappos. I applaud their willingness to disrupt themselves and continually innovate. I hope it works for them and they become even more successful.
Could holacracy work for you? or your company? What innovation grow? would it decline? What organizational structure do you think works best?