Dave Pollard of How to Save the World blog fame, writes questioningly of the Organizations of the Future?. Here is the list the group came up with:
-an organization less like an army (hierarchical, focused on winning) and more like a family/community (collaborative, focused on well-being of members) than today's large organizations;
-better able to deal with complexity;
-has a flexible definition of 'work' that is purposeful and meaningful to its people;
-is accessible, inclusive and diverse;
-is responsive to the communities it operates in;
-is self-managed, innovative and entrepreneurial;
-generates deep mutual respect and trust in its people;
-is resilient and agile, and capable of 'acting in the moment';
-attracts people skilled at collaboration and inclined to work collaboratively;
-has a self-determined, shared set of values;
-is committed to "not being evil";
-is amoeba-like (permeable borders, good sensors, able to change shape when necessary, a strong guiding nucleus, and replicable;
-is attuned to and responsive to customer needs (rather than "trying to sell them something they don't really need or want");
-accommodates needs and conflicting demands of its people, using principles of reciprocity;
-motivates and engages its people;
-cross-pollinates people, ideas, knowledge, points of view;
is transparent and authentic;
-is not location-based or location-dependent;
-uses sustainable, cradle-to-cradle practices, and does more with less;
-engages customers and other partners in design, development and decision-making, to tap into the wisdom of crowds;
-has rotating leadership, with leaders who see where the future is going before others do, and inspires others to act on that vision, and who are able to translate the complexity around them into simple truths that have meaning, direction and predictability (rather than encouraging the cult of leadership and the messiah complex of many of today's leaders);
-accommodates and leverages the skills and qualities of women;
-finds and clears away obstacles that prevent its people from doing their best;
-learns from nature;
-teaches people to communicate extraordinarily well, and encourages authentic, powerful conversations;
-recognizes our responsibility to leave a legacy for our children, and pays attention to them and learns from them
The funny thing is that if you asked most companies whether or not they meet this criteria they actually might say yes "we are working on it -- not there yet but we have initiatives in place to get there." Now far be it from me to be sticking up for corporate entitites, but I have to say that there are some well-intentioned executives and corporations who really believe in this stuff and are trying hard to get their organizations to "this place."
But I have to laugh...the list creators seemed to want organizations "less like armies and not focused on winning." Should they be focused on losing?? There is a game to be played in the corporate environment and therefore people play to win. Employees who consider working in corporate entities choose to play in the game and therefore hopefully sign up to play for a winning organization. They could always choose to work in a non-profit or government entity that has more of family and/or community focus.
Anyway, the things that companies are doing that make them think they are moving in this direction are intiatives that sound like this...customer-centric organization designs; managing change and creating a change ready organizations; employee engagement and retention programs; values-based leadership; corporate social responsibility programs; customer experience intiatiatives; collaborative mindsets and technologies such as internal blogging, rss feeds, knowledge management, social network analysis; distributed work; involving customers in the design process; and the list could go on and on.
Probably the one thing I can't name an initiative for is learns from nature - can you?
So where is the disconnect? Is it in the execution? Is it in the speed at which these initiatives take to get embedded into the culture and therefore noticed by others? Is it lipservice and a bunch of lies? Are execs delusional and/or well-intentioned in thinking their organizations might actually meet the criteria/vision outlined above someday?
I am going to say from my point of view and my experience that there are well-intentioned execs and companies who are trying to do the right thing. What I can also attest to is that running a company is hard work. So in addition to creating an environment that does all of the above simultaneously and at the same time gets results (excuse me, yes win!) is really really hard work. I am sure all of who create the list would agree if they run companies of their own.
Dave asks in his post - is this list really the organization of the future, or just a dream of incurable optimists? I think that many organizations are well on their way to this future state but I believe there isn't much time, that the future is now and that the list is already old...
Now you talk...
Hat tip to Gautum. Thank you!