It’s time to start
We’ve got to learn to work in a whole new way. The very foundations of our organizations have to change. We need to make this change urgently, and we have to do it “without stopping the train”.
From static to dynamic
One of the ways to describe the changes we need to make is to say that we have moved from a static to a dynamic environment. Previously, in a static context, we would take a lot of time to define what something was, while not really bothering to work out how that thing would change. In a dynamic world, we need to invest in making sure that we have a very clear understanding of how something will change, and get hung up on what it is right now.
As an example, lets take a look at roles and job descriptions. When someone takes on a job, they take on a role, and ideally that role comes with a clear description of what it involves. The details of how that role might evolve are normally down to “an annual review”. In a dynamic organization, there are very detailed explanations of how roles are defined and changed. The formats of the meetings to evolve roles are well known, there is a defined structure to the way new responsibilities are written down and the way in which pay is calculated leaves very little to personal discretion. What role someone takes on when they start? Well, lets just make something up and see how it changes. These same changes in emphasis can be seen in every aspect of a dynamic organization.
The relationships between things
The switch we need to make is both subtle and profound. We take so much for granted, the rules and norms of a “static” worldview are baked deep in our culture. I don’t feel that we can simply swap one way of operating for another. Dynamic organizations require a new form of leadership, they run on a different set of processes and expect a new mindset. Where once it was the “things” that mattered most, now the relationships between the things become our focus.
The change of focus, from object to relationship is subtle. It is the transformation required. To achieve it we must change as individuals, as groups and as organizations. Each of these aspects is connected, no one can effectively change without the others, and when changing one you will change the rest. The complexity of the inter-connection means that there is no way to define the end goal before you begin, there cannot be a fixed end state… Because that is only possible, or desirable, when operating from a static perspective. Part of the fundamental reality of a dynamic environment is that it changes, all, the, time. Do you never know what it is going to look like when it’s done, because it’s never done.
The clock is ticking
So, this presents us with a bit of a challenge. We urgently need to make this shift. We live in such dynamic, unpredictable times that our older, static ways of working simply … don’t work. They don’t work economically, they don’t are broken socially and politically and they undermine our health and wellbeing. Unless we learn to manage the complexity and uncertainty of our world, by adopting the mindset and practices required, we cannot but be overwhelmed.
The clock is ticking. Covid stripped away so many our illusions. We’re on the brink of recession. Civil unrest can only grow. Left leaning politicians get stuck trying to understand the nuances, right leaning politics just gives up on the details and tries to push harder. The environment is calling for drastic action. We must act. We must organize ourselves and coordinate efforts on a scale never before imagined. But, we can only do that if we change the way in which we organize. Only organizations capable of continuous change can manage the complexity of the challenge ahead.
Navigate continuous change
There is no way to jump into the new paradigm. You cannot simply change one part, you need to change the whole system. The only way to change the system is to be able to navigate the journey, to be able to make small changes, see if they work, adjust course, make another change. The whole point is to be able to operate in a state of continuous change, so, start with that.
We need to make the changes at every level. We must change as individuals, becoming letting go of hierarchies and learning to be better at relationships. Changing ourselves will push us to change the way we work together. New ways of working together will require us to shift the way in which we run our organizations. New organizational models will inspire new ways of collaborating which will foster the need for personal change. Round and round it goes. On and on.
The nature of work
As this process accelerates, the very nature of work will change. Dynamic organizations do not seek to control or define the actions of the individuals that work for them. Instead organizations get work done by cultivating engagement in a shared purpose, by supporting wellbeing, and encouraging creativity and autonomy. A successful dynamic organization recognises the importance reciprocity, of long term investments in the health of it’s ecosystem. Work ceases to be a process of resource extraction, and instead becomes the process of supporting growth and health.
It’s time. We now all have one job: Change.
This is what we created The-Organization for. To find a practical way to change the nature of work. We believe that its possible. That its the most important thing we can do. We’ve got some ideas, have built some tools, designed some training. We will never have all the answers, but we are ready to start. Lets talk.