Is It Time to Update Your Organizational Model?

Oct 12, 2016


The way we work is changing. Physical presence is no longer necessary for collaboration. Today, younger workers demand the latest digital tools for fluid and agile collaboration. Technology continues to drive a trend away from traditional management hierarchies. In our global economy, more and more teams work together across time zones.

Consider the two ends of the age spectrum in today's workforce.

Boomers began their careers before the era of personal computers. They had to work together face-to-face to get the job done. They had a direct, in-person connection to the people they worked with. Their interaction with distant colleagues required conference calls, business travel, mail, and faxes. They accepted the status quo. There were no other options.

Younger employees have different needs. They are digital natives. New technologies promoted collaborative teamwork from their earliest years in school. They do much of their socializing online. Traditional management structures stifle them into inefficiency.

The brightest and best young talent seeks organizations that embrace technology's leading edge.  It's a job perk for them. They have much to teach their managers about working smarter, better, and faster.

Enabling Technologies Accelerate the Transition

Workplace collaboration has changed - and there is no going back. To stay competitive, companies need to keep investing in the latest digital collaboration tools so global teams can excel.  Complex projects are more successful when they can leverage the latest software:

  • Corporate collaboration portals that allow file sharing and version control and real-time collaborative editing,
  • Internal knowledge bases/wikis that foster continuous learning and improvement,
  • Internal discussion forums,
  • Team configurable-workspaces,
  • Secure internal corporate chat apps that eliminate the need to use the phone or email for short conversations,
  • Online meetings with screen sharing, internal chat, and inherent collaboration tools, and
  • Online corporate learning management systems that enable self-paced training and tracking of employee proficiency. 

The New Organization Still Requires Basic Skills

These technologies streamline collaboration in the digital age, but basic skills still have a significant role in driving performance.

  • Meeting Management: A poorly planned or managed online meeting wastes just as much time as a poorly run face-to-face meeting.
  • Clear Communication: Ambiguity poses problems for all modes of communication - face to face, during an online chat, in an email, or in an online video. Communication skills are especially important on a global team where some team members are non-native English speakers.
  • Information Organization: As corporate portals grow, poor information organization, broken links and bad metadata make them harder to use.

Emerging Organizational Models

Collaboration tools can enable a traditional hierarchical business to become more efficient, but their real value lies in their ability fostering new and exciting organizational models. Holacracy (recently adopted by Zappos), the flatarchy, and Fredrik Laloux's Teal organization would not have been possible before the digital age.

You can reap the benefits of these new ways of doing business without making a complete overhaul of your organizational model.

  • Let middle management retire and fade away to create a flatter organization chart.
  • Allow younger workers a role in decision making via online discussions. 
  • Use collaboration tools to grow self-organizing teams that adopt the Halocracy Constitution.
  • Eliminate yesterday's job titles and update competency models. Define roles that work for the project at hand.
  • Let colleagues evaluate each other's performance on a project-by-project basis. Capture feedback immediately in a modern talent management system. Don't wait for annual performance reviews.

Leave a comment. If your organization has already embraced digital collaboration and shifted its organizational model, tell us about your experience.

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.

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