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A Living Organism or an Army: What Level Is Your Company at and How to Change the Status Quo

Andriy Bulakh, Managing Partner at Deloitte Ukraine, is sharing his thoughts about the importance of transformations in a company

Andriy Bulakh has been a Managing Partner at Deloitte Ukraine for just over four years. During this time, he has tried to change the company at varied levels: he has endeavored to create the office of the future and strived to learn how to meditate together with employees. Andriy Bulakh has shared his experience of implementing changes during Terrasoft’s Business and IT Leaders Forum. K.Fund Media has recorded key points of the presenter’s speech.

Five Management Models

For me, any transformation in business begins with a leader. Mahatma Gandhi says, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself”. I have radically applied this principle. Last year, I took a 3-month sabbatical and stood back from the working process during the whole period. I devoted time to my physical and spiritual development, enjoyed staying with my family, and played poker. During that time, I completely reconsidered what I was doing and fundamentally changed my approach to business processes in the company.

Frederic Laloux, the author of Reinventing Organizations, introduces a concept of the “evolution of management models”. According to him, there are five stages of a company’s development.  

The first stage is so-called a “wolf pack”. This refers to a group of people who are very attached to the pack’s chief/leader. The closer you are to the leader, the wealthier you become, and vice versa, the farther you move away from him/her, the less you obtain. If there is no “chief of the pack”, the whole company will fall apart.

The next evolutionary stage is called an “army”. Companies of this stage are characterized by a stable structure, highly formal roles within a hierarchal pyramid (the boss is always right!), and competition instead of cooperation.

The next stage is a “machine”. At this stage, companies are focused on success, innovation and make efforts to grow faster. Everything functions as a single harmonious organism.  And they have clear and understandable business processes.

The fourth stage of development is called a “family”. Companies of this type introduce an idea of a higher purpose. Revenue is not necessarily considered as the only and important factor of the company’s activities. Money is often treated as a means of achieving higher purposes. The organization’s values begin to play more significant roles. And the company is assessed in terms of its interaction with the society, state, and other market players.

And, finally, the last stage is a “living organism”. Companies of this stage enjoy self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose. At their level, motivating impulses are generated not only by a CEO or a shareholder – they may originate from any part of the organization.

In my opinion, the companies that are going to be closer to the management model of a “living organism” in the next 5–10 years will be able to interact effectively with the ever-changing external world.

Four Steps Required to Be Changed

Serving in the role of the Managing Partner, I have tried to make certain changes in it at different levels. For instance, at the “machine” level, I have tried to change the company’s management model from the vertical to a standard one. At the “family” level, I have devoted much time to launching corporate values that are important to employees. We have worked on development of the office of the future that would offer interaction, cooperation, and less competition.

At the “living organism” level, we have introduced an idea of “meditation”. Our employees have been practicing meditation in the office for more than six months already. I believe this is a very essential element for mental health.

Attempts have been undertaken to change the organization at different levels of management models. Here are some steps that are important to take on the road to transformation.

1. Determine objectively at what stage of development your organization is. If it is an “army”, you should admit that your company is the “army”, and there are some reasons for it. Perhaps, it was only yesterday that this management model was successful and effective.

2. Determine what you miss in order to move to the next level. Ask yourself if there is really a need for a change.

3. Start moving. At this stage, it is important not to be afraid to experiment and make mistakes. Some companies are sure that making mistakes is bad and unacceptable. It is true, the risk should be manageable, but if you do not experiment, there will be no progress.

4. Do not confuse faith with optimism. Change is an evolutionary process. If you run too fast, there might arise a need to roll back.

Article by Anna Ablitsova

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