Adapt to survive, change to grow

The changing face of organisational design has become an increasingly hot, and important, topic in the last couple of years.

High-performing companies are stepping away from the rigid, outdated linear models that have dominated the last century. Companies must adapt to survive in today’s volatile, tech-dominated global business climate.

The rate of technological development and digitisation of business roles and processes is setting the pace for business growth. Being able to adapt, learn and grow in record time is a necessity to keep up with the demands of markets and career demands.

It’s easy to get comfortable with the effective organisational systems that have driven business growth in the past. The growing pains associated with re-designing leadership hierarchies and the ways in which different teams work in synergy may seem to outweigh the perceivable benefits.

But for the dynamic movers and shakers that successfully foster and execute organisational change, the benefits vastly offset the troubles. Successful change promises boosts in productivity, employee engagement and satisfaction, financial growth and more.

Network of teams concept

Challenging the old order

The old, efficiency-centric models relied on stable, predictable consumer trends for their growth and success. Today, when you can walk into a store, buy a top-of-the-range tablet or computer and have it become outdated by the time you step out the door, this comfort zone of market predictability has effectively been shattered.

Unprecedented levels of business and product innovation are forcing companies to redesign themselves for agility and adaptability, above all else.

Part of the problem is that many executive teams are too deeply-rooted in traditional business hierarchies. The old, pyramidal structure with the board at the top and staff on the bottom isn’t the only way, nor is it the best one, according to recent research.

Anecdotal reports from consulting firms suggest that more than two thirds of re-organisation attempts fail to reach the intended outcome because of creative inflexibility from executives. Organisational change is usually complicated and expensive and taking creative risks may seem like one burden too many.

To be fit to compete on a global scale, organisational change must now involve stepping away from traditional hierarchies in favour of small, highly flexible teams.

Many companies already know this – regardless of whether they take the steps to implement large-scale change. A global survey of more than 10,000 business leaders revealed that, in 2017, only 14% still believe that the traditional hierarchy is optimal for a highly effective company.

Small business team meeting

Changing the rules

The touted foundation of future business organisation is ‘a network of teams’. Leading companies are starting to rely on highly interconnected, fluid teams to remain agile and responsive to changing business needs.

This opens up channels of communication between teams and minimises the long, progress-stifling climb up the chain of command to seek approvals.

Specifically, this networked model involves individual team members shifting between specialised teams, depending on the short-term demands of the company. Innovators can lend their product knowledge to marketing teams, just as marketers may be best suited on content generation teams, for certain projects.

To retain agility, these teams must be flexible. Companies need to carefully assemble a team of specialised staff, customised according to the project at hand, for the duration of the project, then disband and re-assemble new teams for future endeavours.

For example, a tech company might combine various content writers, developers, sales staff and marketers to roll out a new piece of eLearning software over the course of one year.

Then, it could re-assemble those staff into a ‘development and innovation’ team and a ‘content and marketing’ team to tackle separate projects thereafter.

Man working on tablet in relaxed office

Empowering people

Effective collaboration between teams reaps a host of rewards for the both the company and the individual. Production and delivery times receive massive increases and cohesive teams encourage stronger working relationships.

The adaptability of roles can present stimulating challenges for staff that will encourage professional development. Moving between projects provides ample opportunity for individuals to find new applications for their skills.

Having the ability to strategically allocate and shift talent between projects without risk is a defining trait of many of today’s industry-leading companies.

A key challenge of the networked model is that effective collaboration between teams can require a dizzying amount of coordination to keep things running smoothly. Managing a plethora of communication channels, meetings and team roles becomes harder with fluid, interchangeable teams.

To this end, leaders need certain skills to flourish in this organisational environment. Team leaders should be strong negotiators, have a broad awareness of their team’s role in the bigger picture of the project and an intimate knowledge of individuals’ unique talents within the team.

This helps accommodate the inherent mobility of staff members that is essential in the networked model. Leaders must be able to strategically select the right talent for a team from a potentially huge pool of staff, depending on the size of the company.

Looking to the future

Working in networks of dynamic teams looks set to be the future of many, if not all innovative companies. Highly interconnected organisations are the key to empowering their people and utilising talents to their fullest extent.

Adaptability and agility must be the cornerstones of organisational structure for any company wanting to keep up with today’s unpredictable business world.

Stay tuned for information on leading software options to help simplify large-scale change operations and intuitive team-building and management.

Man looking at team network concept