Designing and leading technology enabled organisations – considerations from the engine room

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Nick Richmond, European Organisation Design Forum (EODF), UK Chair, kicked of the challenge ‘Top 3 Organisation Design Leadership Insights’ with regard to the EODF’s conference theme this year ‘Designing and leading technology enabled organisations’. Naomi Stanford responded to his three insights (invest for success, innovation is messy, keep your eye on your ‘why’) with hers (how I understood them):

  • There is a huge stretch between keeping up with technology changes and implications to org design
  • Complex technology needs complex dialogues and deep thinking in organizations
  • It needs leaders who also care about the ethics and future consequences of their decisions and not about only traditional positional power positions

Both inspired me (thanks for that;)) to share – in addition – three areas where I am currently seeing the most practical implications:

1.) Technology enables new interaction – with yourself and with others

The technology of Siri and Alexa is taken by PRECIRE to the next level. Its AI analyzes linguistic and written communication and can draw objective psychological conclusions from it. It provides information about talents and abilities that we may not even know about. A great source to start your Learning and Development journey from.

Technology also gives opportunities for totally new ways of conversations in organizations. For example some employee engagement survey provider offer the possibility to reply directly to the sender of an anonymous feedback. In former time with the one-directional suggestion boxes there was no conversation. Now the manager can reply and maybe even spark a real dialogue on a important issue – even not knowing from whom the comment came.  Knowing that organizations (excluding your family system) only exist because of communication this is a very interesting field to explore.

2.) Ambidextrous Leaders needed

Companies must master two challenges simultaneously: they have to be efficient in the economic disciplines and at the same time adaptable with regard to the environmental and technologic changes. These two dimensions can be described by the terms “Exploit” and “Explore”. The ability of an organization or manager to deal with both dimensions at one and the same time is called Ambidexterity.

  • The dimension “Exploit” consists of e.g. establishing & monitoring plans, rules and routines, focusing on quality & cost (reduction) & activities related to refinement, optimization, selection & implementation.
  • In contrast, “Explore” encompasses activities such as search, experimentation, flexibility, discovery & research – encouraging new ideas and independent, creative thinking & acting, supporting risk-taking & accepting mistakes.

Managers who are able to cope with ambidexterity:

  • can handle decision situations in a “as well as” manner
  • adjust their leadership behavior situational and
  • know that they have to work on different dimensions simultaneously (e.g. performance and well-being)

3.) Existing (HR) instruments have to be thought anew

Albert Einstein once concluded: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”. Technology and societal changes force organizations to reconsider old values and beliefs and their implication with regards to processes, structures and instruments. One example is reconsidering career paths. Career paths are traditional methods by which an employee can develop and progress within an organization. A career development path provided employees with an ongoing mechanism to enhance their skills and knowledge that lead to mastery of their current jobs, promotions and transfers to new or different positions. It typically describes the progression from entry level positions to higher levels of pay, skill, responsibility, or authority.

With technology changing at rapid pace, the evolution of organizations and new – maybe more holistic or t-shaped – job profiles emerging the “rules” around career nominations, skill enhancement, employee retention and de-nomination have to be reviewed. Maybe the future is not even dealing with career paths anymore but more with liquid areas of contribution and credibility and flexible permeable networks and communities within organizations.

What are your three insights around Designing and Leading Technology Enabled Organisations? Let me + other EODF colleagues + anyone else interested know.

Hi, I am Bernd – a HR Innovator and passionate about developing people, teams and organizations. I am expert in leadership development and large scale change. You can find out more about me: LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter

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