Are you too slow to win? Corporate culture and the new workplace pt. 4 - What exactly do digitally enabled ways of working look like?
A series on the role of corporate culture in the evolution towards a more digitally enabled workplace.
In the previous post we played top 10 reasons to start the journey to the future of your organisation. Catch up at in our feed on three earlier posts that cover behavioural changes in the workplace, technology and a list of 10 motivations for shaping the future organisation.
This post looks at what a digitally enabled, agile and productive customer centric organisation looks like. The superstars have been doing this for a decade; it’s already here and happening.
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The modern and digitally enabled workplace is one of physical ambivalence, where employee engagement delivers real advocacy, ideas come from anywhere and where collaboration, communication and innovation are the lifeblood of the organisation.
While the incumbents play in silo’s with people working to a job role to deliver against KPIs, the digitally enabled workplace allows talent to decide. Teams form and disband in response to customer needs. Leaders are more like coaches. Hiring can happen anywhere at anytime and from anyplace. Technology enables work to happen when the teams want it to, regardless of their location or timezone. As change is constant, your workplace culture which embraces change and thrives on generating new ideas forms a large part of your sustainable competitive advantage. Your employees are empowered and trusted while feeling responsible for the future of the organisation. People are rewarded for their contribution to a synergistic environment at work; the team wins as a team.
If you think this is all a bit far fetched, remember that the future of work is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.(1)
If you’re meeting the rest of your team to take a decision, that’s not a team, it’s a jury. For those working in their future, team meetings don’t really happen anymore. Time together is so precious why would it continue to be wasted on updates and informing of decisions the leader has taken since the last meeting? Digitally enabled workplaces move faster and suffer less from absenteeism by breaking silos and meeting based cultures. Time together is reserved for debate, for bonding, for challenge and for finding accelerated path to resolutions.
Organised by project, team conversations, status updates, social news are all facilitated by what is essentially a blogging platform, like an endless Skype chat session. All saved, all catalogued, all searchable. With few exceptions, any employee can visit each and any of these virtual chat rooms and can skim the content to catch up at any time, contribute to the discussion, or place a well timed question or challenge and leave the team to it.
Managers and peers from other projects pop in and out to contribute, both when requested and simply out of curiosity; they want to see what else is happening elsewhere in the business and where they might be able to help. People often find opportunity to collide aspects of their own projects with those they have observed for mutual gain and savings of effort.
Deliverables are transparent which drives a culture of increased accountability for project success. We win together, and if we look like we are slipping, somebody elsewhere in the organisation has the experience, knowledge, or an idea to interject, while they have the opportunity and the incentive to support a team solution in following the progress of the projects that are relevant or of interest to them.
More accurately, it never stops. People are no longer paid for their time, they are paid to be part of high performing teams delivering outputs that drive the objectives of the business. The rest is up to them. It’s their life, not yours to dictate operating hours for.
Finally, you will be seeing your team’s potential, as an increasingly self service model means that interaction, engagement and output can take place as part of a work/life blend. Open vacation is ubiquitous; who would waste time and resources in form filling and policing their talent?
“What do you do for a living” is met with statements of impact, not job descriptions.
Since your teams are comprised of the absolute best talent for each role (and you are no longer limited to the local pool) your employees are distributed across the globe. If needed, conference calls are scheduled to the lowest common inconvenience. A week long meetup is held 6 times a year, in an exotic location (like Hawaii, Budapest, or Manchester), where the team rents a house and spends the week talking, working, bonding, exploring new ideas and making huge strides in their project. Instead of meeting to take decisions on a weekly basis, work flows regardless of team meetings as everybody is empowered and trusted to bring their talent and initiative to the project.
A major benefit is that the paralysis of consensus with the most influential (stated or otherwise) in the room is diminished; talented people are empowered to ‘get on with it’ and apply their talent to manifest in outputs that drive towards the project objectives.
Sounds a bit fanciful I know, but one organisation that has worked in this manner since it’s inception is valued at $1.2B yet has fewer than 500 employees. And the software they use.. effectively free.
How much did you pay for your intranet? And are most of you in the same building?
Collaborative team working gets really exciting when you have the confidence to ask team members NOT to join meetings. It’s all there in the digital workspace, why would you need to be in the meeting? Win back the most precious assets you have; time and talent to deploy. Recapture 2 person hours a week from each of your project teams..
Play with this idea when forming a business case for digitally enabled culture change and the word ‘compelling’ doesn’t even come close to describing the urgency for taking action. Setting course towards more digitally enabled ways of working is no longer an option if you wish to survive in a talent driven knowledge based service economy.
In the following post I lay out the steps to take towards a culture where collaboration and innovation is demanded by your people, not expected of them.
(1) With thanks to William Ford Gibson, c.1993