„The modern employee works like a Consultant,
therefore modern Organizations should be functional, non-hierarchical.“ (Hanns-Peter Cohn)
In the first part of the “The Change Elements” series I wrote about “The right Leadership” and how “Keeping a Beginners Mind” should be seen as a gift for organizational development and fostering motivation by excitement. Today I´d like to draw your attention to the second of three fundamental Change Elements: The right Organization.
Continuous, ever faster pacing Change in an Organization´s environment is no news these days – a development materializing in steadily increasing pressure and higher work load. Hence calls for more resources, additional priorization and better resource planning from employees and line managers are omnipresent. Viceversa, reactions to hardened competitive pressure from top management regularly is cutting (low hanging, fast realizeable) operating costs – meaning personnel and spending.
Let´s assume that probably both side´s reactions, while definitely valid demands in specific circumstances, are missing to ask the core questions – What is the customer value added, what is our contribution to that? Are we realizing that customer value most efficiently – means – do our processes (still) fit, and are our interfaces adequately defined?
Shorter intervals of change and short-dated assumptions require – first and foremost – adequate processes: fast, flexible, with interfaces interconnecting the organization´s environment. This requires the organization itself to be process- and customer oriented. Process oriented, functional organizations acting like interconnected networks also allow employees to work freely and cross-linked, and by that support motivation by excitement because „the modern employee works like a Consultant (remark: functional, non-hierarchical)“(1) Those organizations also enable each employee to see the benefit of his actions almost immediately, and get as direct customer feedback as possible. By doing so, they altogether manage to get a benefit that modern organizations need most – their employees minds, not just time.
While that kind of organizations support flexibility and freedom to act, flexibility and freedom as a prerequisite need clearly defined rules and processes, speak structure. Sounds like a kind of paradox, isn´t it? Think of a brilliant Jazz musician, entering the stage and easily improvising over the most complicated chord changes, like it just came into his mind, leaving the listener with a feeling of untouchable greatness. But to do so, to deliver this few minutes of brilliancy, moving “freely” and create something probably new, the very same musician for days, month and years trained a set of strict musical rules. “Freedom in jazz improvisation comes from understanding structure” (2) – a statement probably applicable for modern organizations, too! (hint: just eliminate the word jazz)
Back to speaking of (customer) feedback and seeing one´s work benefit. In the third and last part of “The Change Elements”, we´ll have a look on how adopting information that crosses people´s desk is another fundamental Change Element.
The right Organization – Sources & Links
(1) Cohn, Hanns-Peter, CEO vitra AG, Magazin brandeins 06/2011
(2) Kane, Brian J “The Case for Improvisational Melodic Structures”, http://www.jazzpath.com/education/articles/melodicImprov.php [last visited 10.12.2013]