Redesigning organizations to unleash the untapped power of teams

Posted by Kelly Monahan and Sally Schmall on November 6, 2018.

Calling all HR organizational designers! The future of work (FOW) is here and your organization needs you more than ever—not to stay the course but rather to design the right path to empower employees to learn, experiment, collaborate and innovate. Building the successful organization of the future will require agility and the ability to adapt to rapid changes unfolding now. How are you designing organizations today to be effective tomorrow?

Consider where we are today:1

  • Technology is everywhere and everyone is accessible…yet many people don’t feel connected to their colleagues.
  • There is a tsunami of data…yet analytics fluency is lacking.
  • AI and automation are gaining ground…making “essentially human” aspects of work even more important.
  • Talent models are expanding…faster than talent management styles.
  • Organizations are grappling to manage quadri-generational workforces…with Generation X moving into leadership roles.

Given these driving forces, what will the future of work look like for Global 2000 companies five years from now? To begin answering that question, Deloitte leveraged the wisdom of crowds to ask leaders across the globe what they thought were the most important changes shaping the organizations of tomorrow. Seven realities emerged for organizational success in the FOW.2

Reality No. 1: Exponential Organizations (ExOs) relentlessly seek the right mix of technologies, data, and people who can leverage data analysis with creative thinking to unleash value creation and achieve exponential return on assets.

Reality No. 2: Leading organizations craft a multichannel workforce strategy that optimizes a diverse and augmented workforce of full and part time employees, contractors, crowds, and robots.

Reality No. 3: Pioneering HR leaders are reimagining talent management practices including leadership, learning, and career models to optimize the benefits of a quadri-generational workforce.

Reality No. 4: Agile organizations proactively assess and reassess the combination of human and machine talent as a critical component of their strategic business planning.

Reality No. 5: Organizational leaders reinforce ethical behavior as a core management principle and corporate citizenship as integral to creating an engaging experience for the workforce.

Reality No. 6: Smaller, nimble enterprises are leveraging larger organizations’ solutions to drive brand identity, internal networks, and expertise. Move over Goliath, David is here to stay.

Reality No. 7: HR needs to stay abreast of changing laws and employment regulations, especially as they relate to the open talent economy.

Focusing on the “how”
In light of these unfolding realities, organizations are reassessing their approaches to the what, who, and where of work.3 Many are asking themselves “what is our digital strategy?” and “who can do the work?” as well as “where can the work be done?” Now it’s time to expand these conversations and begin asking (and answering) the how of work.

To begin with, how does the future of work influence the organizational design and leadership behaviors necessary to create a culture capable of capturing the inherent value within each of these emerging realities?

Virtually everyone agrees that high -performing organizations will operate radically different tomorrow than how they operated five years ago. However, many organizations have been built (and continue to operate) on the concept of functional hierarchies, a concept first introduced in the “modern” business world 160 years ago via organizational charts.4 This type of design assumes that organizations are linear and one dimensional and that information flows one way. What we often see today are technologies, processes, and people working within outdated organizational designs. The Global 2000 company of the future will require a new mind-set and structure that rewards innovation, experimentation, continuous learning, and design thinking across organizational boundaries.5 A legacy hierarchical structure could prevent a “future” from coming to fruition.

Designing flexible organizations requires understanding where both visible and invisible connections exist (or should exist) and the way knowledge is generated, shared and retained across the organization. Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) illustrates existing structures and more importantly the invisible ways people connect to contribute in meaningful ways.6 This brings us to organizational redesign—how can this information be used to redesign organizations to operate in a more agile fashion, leveraging the influence and insights of the network of flexible teams to drive organizational performance? Over the next year our research will be devoted to help answer this question.

If the FOW relies on new organizational models, then it also makes sense to ask how the FOW changes what effective leadership looks like in a world of networks, diverse teams, and platforms.7 Our research reveals HR leaders benefit from amplifying capabilities such as technical expertise and systems thinking and from embracing diversity of experience and ideas to drive true value creation by fostering a culture of continuous learning, trust, inclusion, and accountability.8 When people feel they are treated fairly and their uniqueness is valued, and when they have a sense of belonging and a voice in decision making, then they feel engaged with the organization.9 Engagement equals exponential impact.

This may be the greatest challenge for organizations in the next five years: how to redesign work and organizational structures, management practices, and cultures to accelerate learning, performance, and new possibilities. Is your organization designed to unleash the power of teams to proactively navigate the future of work?

If your organization is redesigning or utilizing ONA to identify and leverage network teams, we would like to hear from you— please contact Kelly Monahan

Additionally, if your organization is working on leadership development or change management models for motivating an augmented workforce and you’d like to be interviewed as part of our research, please reach out to Sally Schmall

Kelly MonahanKelly Monahan, Ph.D. is a manager with Deloitte Services LP and subject matter specialist at Deloitte’s Center for Integrated Research.
Sally SchmallSally Schmall is a manager and lead member adviser for leadership, talent management development, and succession planning at BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

1 Predictions 2018: Embracing radical transparency, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP/Josh Bersin, 2018.
2 The evolution of work: New realities facing today’s leaders, Deloitte Insights/Heather Stockton, Mariya Filipova, and Kelly Monahan, 2018.
3 Digital HR: Platforms, people, and work. Global human capital trends 2017: Rewriting the rules for the digital age, Deloitte University Press/Erica Volini, Pascal Occean, Michael Stephan, and Brett Walsh 2017.
4 The future of work; Attract new talent, build better leaders, and create a competitive organization. Jacob Morgan, Wiley, 2014.
5 Growth mindset in a continuous learning culture, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP/Madhura Chakrabarti, and Emily Sanders, 2017.
6 HR Technology Disruptions for 2018: Productivity, design, and intelligence reign, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP/ Josh Bersin 2017.
7 Global human capital trends 2018: The rise of the social enterprise. Deloitte University Press, 2018.
8 Advancing through the HR maturity model, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP/Jeff Mike 2017.
9 High-impact diversity and inclusion: Maturity model and top findings, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Stacia Garr, and Predictions 2018: Embracing radical transparency, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP/Josh Bersin, 2017.

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