The digital era requires smart, agile, connected organisations.
The first wave of digital transformation was about adding digital capabilities to existing structures; the next is about creating natively digital and connected structures that operate more like software.
It is time to upgrade our organisational operating systems…
The old bureaucratic model of management hierarchy and process controls is not only a huge waste of time and money; it is also the main barrier to agility and productivity.
We need a more automated, connected system to co-ordinate work. Without it, the promise of AI and smart technology is just a dream.
Building apps is the easy bit. If the organisations that make them are unfit for purpose, the impact of transformation will only be skin deep.
Where to begin?
Organisations need to evolve like software: from brittle, vertically-integrated monoliths to service-oriented platforms and layers of connected services. In software, platforms look after the rules and standardised functions, whilst ‘apps’ and interfaces operating on top focus on great employee and customer experience.
In an organisational operating system, the platform automates and orchestrates standard functions, and teams build on top to create customer-facing products and services.
What do we mean by an Org OS?
an assembly of functional capabilities beyond just people & processes
- a modular architecture of standard services that can be re-combined
- a ‘trustful’ social space where people can collaborate across functions
- a social system that helps people make good decisions together
- a system of collective intelligence to create a learning organisation
- the manifestation of an organisation’s IP, culture and secret sauce
- an evolving system that develops resilience in response to external challenges
Culture, skills, and ways of working
We need a ‘hierarchy bypass’ that can develop a better, more scalable method of co-ordinating work inside organisations, or transformation will only produce marginal improvements at best.
The organisational operating system also encompasses culture, trust, behaviour, mindsets, identity and purpose. Better structures produce better culture and behaviours.
Trustful organisations that promote ownership and accountability are far easier and cheaper to run, and can move much faster at every level.
Change the old or build the new?
Change is hard. Transforming a system that has become calcified over decades – and on which so many people depend for their authority and income – is harder still.
Our approach is to build out elements of a new organisational architecture to support the emerging future firm, rather than try to change the whole system at once.
Using digital platforms and data to coordinate agile and self-directed working gradually shifts the system towards ‘minimum viable management’.
How We Can Help
We work with digital leaders to map digital strategy, capability gaps, and cultivate a network of digital guides across the organisation; we also deliver in-depth digital leadership learning and development programmes.
We map the capabilities, services and skills of emerging agile teams, and help assemble them into a service platform that the whole firm can use. We also help design and implement key platform elements starting with a digital learning hub.
We help switch from a process-centric work system to a more agile and service-centric approach, identify scope for automation or standardisation of these services, and then create the interfaces and connections with other teams to work better together.
We look at five key dimensions of the organisational operating system.
Our diagnostic health bot asks questions and gathers data to create a real-time picture of progress towards becoming an agile, adaptive organisation. We use this information to create custom learning journeys and suggest new management techniques to address weaknesses.
We map digital capabilities and talent, identifying gaps that are priorities for action, and help create distributed agile transformation systems to make change routine.
Shared digital leadership and strategy are key to making sure all stakeholders are aligned and helping build the connected capabilities the organisation needs.
What is getting in the way of connected, agile working? How can we create real-time co-ordination & communication structures that are faster and more reliable than hierarchy?
An agile organisation needs more openness, accountability and psychological safety for people to step up and own their work. How can we test for these attributes and what interventions can help?
Shifting from a process view of the world to a service-oriented approach is key to continuous improvement. How can we make operations more collaborative, data-driven and service-focused?
How can we better integrate our workplace technologies to connect, standardise and automate the boring bits, whilst freeing up people to focus on value-added activities?
What does leadership look like in a digital, networked world? How can leaders not just drive incremental improvements, but create the conditions and the platform for exponential success?