We are in the throes of exponential change, underpinned by a technology revolution. We live in a world that’s always on and always connected with inexhaustible computational power at our fingertips; the iPhone has far more processing power than the original supercomputer. Technology based operating models (Uber, AirBnB, Netflix, etc.) are bringing established models to their knees, enabling the consumer to dictate the rules of the game that modern policy makers simply can’t adapt to.
According to Mckinsey research, ‘Compared with the Industrial Revolution, we estimate that this change is happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3,000 times the impact. Although we all know that these disruptions are happening, most of us fail to comprehend their full magnitude and the second- and third-order effects that will result.’
It’s postmodernism, the information age where the consumer/citizen is king, but when will the power of citizenship also include the employee persona? Are organizations ready for the postmodernism shift to distributed empowerment where the organizational model is built on purpose, empowerment and engagement?
‘Instinctively, we know that management is out of date. We know its rituals and routines look slightly ridiculous in the dawning light of the 21st century. That’s why the antics in a Dilbert cartoon or an episode of The Office are at once familiar and cringe-making.’ Gary Hamel
There are signs that the existing hierarchical model, with power residing at the top of the pyramid, is starting to give to the despondence of a disengaged workforce.
‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.’ Richard Buckminster Fuller
Over the weekend I was introduced to a book by Frederic Laloux called Reinventing Organizations and I was totally engrossed. My work with large organizations has exposed me to employee frustration that some staff experience due to outdated policies and constraints that prohibit innovation. I have also witnessed the organizational challenge in adopting new tools and capabilities due to a lack of empowerment and modern procurement processes. When Frederic Laloux revealed examples of how progressive organizations (e.g. Buurtzog) are redefining new models based on Self-Management, Wholeness and Evolutionary Process I realized that the change has already commenced.
“Modern organizations have brought about sensational progress for humanity in less than two centuries―the blink of an eye in the overall timeline of our species. None of the recent advances in human history would have been possible without organizations as vehicles for human collaboration. And yet, many people sense that the current way we run organizations has been stretched to its limits. We are increasingly disillusioned by organizational life. For people who toil away at the bottom of the pyramids, surveys consistently report that work is more often than not dread and drudgery, not passion or purpose. And it’s not only at the bottom of the pyramid.” Frederic Laloux
Strap yourself in…it’s happening!