Unlocking the flexible organization


Unlocking the flexible organization

Organizational design for an uncertain future

Many companies struggle to implement the concepts on nimble way of working; they are simply lacking the experience and energy to unlock the potentials of the flexible organization. Today’s global operating environment is too unpredictable to rely on organizational structures devised over a century ago in order to adapt and respond to new challenges.

Today’s struggle of traditional organizations

Today’s ‘exponential organizations’ are not only putting competitors out of business, they are upending entire industries overnight. In the 1950s, the average lifespan of an S&P 500 organization was around 60 years. Now, it’s about 15 years— and continues to decline1. Lean start-ups are moving with purpose, speed and agility to reshape markets. By contrast, most major corporations are heavily layered, bureaucratic and stifled by complex webs of reporting lines that weigh-down leadership and smother talent.

We are not suggesting that an oil super-major or global consumer business giant needs to look like the latest start-up, but we are suggesting that the current designs of these massive organizations often crush the free-flowing energy and culture that makes teams of small disrupters so successful.

1 Salim Ismail, Exponential Organizations (New York: Diversion Books, 2014).

Unlocking the flexible Organization

How to unlock the flexible organization?

This report explores the four main elements to unlocking flexible design. In order to compete, organizational structure should evolve to unlock the potential within enterprises and unleash the latent power in networked teams. Under this new model, predictable efficiency gives way to rapid adaptability. Smaller is actually better. Focused teams, with resources, air-cover and real decision authority will generally be ‘faster to market’ than heavily structured groups that require approvals before each step.

The 4 step approach

Incubating ‘nimbleness’ allows organizations to unlock flexible design in some areas of the organization without causing undue risk to the overall organization. Key considerations of the 4 step approach include:

The four steps indicate that unlocking the flexible organization is not simply appoint a team that can experiment and work their way to a pre-defined result; it indicates that this change will lead to a fundamental shift how people within organizations are working together and how the organization is structured. Those companies who understand that this implicates a radical shift in the current ‘DNA’ of the organization, that can only succeed if aspects like organizational culture and leadership are aligned with this new way of working, those companies will truly succeed in unlocking the flexible organization.

Begin to unlock the flexible organization

Becoming more nimble is no longer a buzzword, or an aspect that can only be linked to ‘kinky’ startups. Today’s market dynamics and disruptive technologies shake the world of traditional bureaucratic organizations. Therefore the question is no longer if becoming more nimble is necessary for survival, but how to implement the key aspects of becoming more nimble; how to unlock the flexible organization, in order to secure your business continuity.

The components of a flexible organization exist in nearly every business. It takes a strong leader with a clear vision and an unwavering commitment to unlock the power of networked teams and create a platform that allows the organization to adapt in a complex, uncertain world.

Download the report and learn more on how to unlock the flexible organization.

Agile or Nimble?
Agile and nimble way of working has become a top priority of any CHRO and executive of today’s organization. In practice, we see that terms like agile, nimble, scrum, etc are often referring to same topic: organization flexibility. In this article we stick to the term nimble, because agile and scrum often refers to how you work together, but flexibility can also be stimulated by optimizing the way you are structured. Nimble therefore can be regarded as an overall terminology, referring to a more flexible and adaptive organization.

Nimble as a trending topic
The reason why nimble is such a trending topic is twofold: First of all, the nimble way of organizing will not only have a positive effect on organizational efficiency. Second of all, it will add more passion and purpose for the employees involved, by simply giving them more responsibilities and freedom to organize.

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