Have you noticed a shift around you over the last few years? And no, it is not another cool gadget or a shiny new device that will make your life simpler or better. The shift that is happening is the need to re-build organizations for the 21st century with people at the centre of the equation.
Do we know what’s not working?
It’s simple. We are using 20th century models and business practices in a 21st century world. Our institutions were built in an entirely different era and the cracks are starting to show. While most people in all sectors love to talk about innovation and introduce technology into their organization, the practices that run organizations are archaic.
While we try to go faster, we find ourselves bogged down. Just yesterday after my talk at South by Southwest, I was approached by an executive who asked for advice on how to get people to adopt their recent changes and shared how paralyzed they are by the fact that “people don’t get it.” There is a growing disconnect between shared purpose and action and despite all the vision and mission statements, communication is not flowing to the right people at the right time.
Something fundamentally breaks down between the time that the executive team leaves the conference room with their PowerPoint strategy and when employees need to know what they need to focus on in their work. Hours are wasted in meetings to gain alignment and make sure everyone is up to date and we don’t challenge the current metrics that define our success. Are the dashboard helping to run your business or adding a layer of complexity?
Where are we headed?
I am excited about the future of work and life, which is what I will be writing about every two weeks. In the 21st century workplace, understanding the landscape of possibilities and opportunities for the organization is key. We live in a world of abundance and what that means is that we need to shift from taking market share away from competitors to creating new markets. For example, when we think of Nike, do we think of sports and apparel or a data and services company? Nike, with the FuelBand, has created a new market.
And at the heart of the 21st century organization is not more programs and delegating leaders’ responsibilities like diversity and inclusion to a function instead of making it their responsibility to build the best team. In the new organization, leaders are responsible for building great teams focused on projects. Managers in the new world of work manage projects, not adults. Having an ignited workforce that knows how to implement the organization’s business strategy will separate the organizations that survive. And no, this is not a human resources issue. It is about leadership, vision and execution. It requires us to get back to basic business common sense and participatory leadership.
What will our journey here look like?
I made a number of bets on the shifts that we will witness, which I will cover in future posts with concrete actions we can each take. I am also building a diagnostic tool that will help leaders and individuals assess whether they are stuck in the 20th century or living the dream of the 21st century on seven key indicators ranging from experimental mindset to connected work.
After over a decade of working inside a large organization in key leadership roles around the world, I have emerged to take the knowledge, experiences and insights into my life’s work of helping organizations transform. My life’s passion is to diagnose the symptoms and help create healthy organizations. I am looking forward to having a conversation here and talking to many of you in my research and learning about what’s possible. I will share with you the trends that will either force organizations to change or be proactive and strategic to avoid the pain.
According to John M. Richardson, Jr. there are three types of leaders. Which one are you?
When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.