“Being part of the change is not a choice, you already are! Your choice is to embrace and benefit from the change, or to be one of its victims”.
Generally speaking, most people and organisations prefer stability and predictability over change and the perceived uncertainty it brings. Most will rather choose to avoid changes, than to seek them out and confront them. Especially when these changes are big and occur fast. And although this intuitive response is very recognizable and understandable, it is also quite counterproductive. Because without change, there will be no opportunities.
We have been taught that in business we basically have three competitive options, i.e.: 1) play the game better than others, 2) change the rules of the game, or 3) play a different game. This originates from an era in which we had ample time to analyse and plan our strategic choices. Yet in today’s exponentially changing environment, this is a luxury we no longer have. Change has become the rule rather than the exception. Yet for those who can overcome their primary response, this presents a new opportunity to outperform the competition!
Rapid adaptation is the new competitive advantage.
To improve adaptability, organisations will need to move away from structure and hierarchy and embrace the model of an adaptive self-organising network. This model nurtures a behaviour that continuously creates any required behaviour, for any specific event, in any specific environment, at any given point in time. Natural self-organising collectives (Swarms) give us valuable insights on how this works. But what steps must we take to create them?
1) Increase autonomy. Self-organising collectives resolve issues at the source, using available information and resources within the moment and without management involvement. Hereto, people will need to operate autonomously and self-responsible towards a common goal.
2) Implement role-based organisation design and flexibility. Fixed, skill-based positions shall be replaced by flexible roles which all have their specified purpose and tasks. Roles will be fulfilled based on motivation, availability and personal preference by people with both generalist and specialist skills.
3) Use mirror and match behaviour. Self-organising collectives are holographic and diverse, meaning that all participants can mirror all capabilities, processes and goals of the entire organisation and match the requirements of the environment.
4) Create redundant connectivity. Build a communication structure, protocol and individual accountability to prevent any loss or damage of information. Promote unlimited information sharing
In the near future, successful business models will be more about ‘being the first’ than about ‘being the best’. Therefore, their organisation setup must not be built to last but build to adapt. This requires a different structure and skills set, but most important a totally different organisation philosophy and mind-set.
The future of organising is non- hierarchic.