As the pace of change & evolution accelerates, leadership teams must adapt their organization to address market change, technological disruption, shifting demographics, generational norms, or simply mobility constraints. The people & organization topic is thus becoming a boardroom concern: if not managed properly, businesses will increasingly struggle to manage their operations & deliver upon customer expectations.
At the highest level, we see three challenges for leaders in tackling the people & organization topic
The first question leaders of organizations need to clarify is the essential one: what is our raison d’être? It seems an obvious one, but unfortunately, we find that in many organization perceptions differ amongst leaders and throughout the departments. It is therefore key to spend enough time on the basic questions: Why do we exist? What problems are we trying to solve, for whom? What value do we bring, and in what way is that different than the competition? It is key to go beyond the typical mission & vision slogans or marketing gibberish that is published online: what is said there should be truly meant, deeply understood & commonly shared by all the internal stakeholders. Without this cement, an organization is just a random group of people doing stuff.
Tip: invest enough time, clarifying, and sharing a purpose will provide the necessary canvas to build teams & motivate people.
As the ‘reasons why’ are clear, leaders can design how best to get organized. The attention shifts from external in the above challenge to internal now: The focus here is on creating an efficient and effective breakdown of processes & tasks to make sure every team or department understands in what way they contribute to the whole. It might seem simple, because of course org-charts and customs exist – it is how things are done for now. Leaders should, however, dare to challenge that and be open to alternative ways of working. Many questions need to be addressed – e.g., how can we be an open organization & co-create with our clients? Who are the key stakeholders? How do we work with partners & third party suppliers? What is core, and what can be outsourced? How do we avoid departmental silos, and how can we be truly project & customer-focused, and as agile as we need to be? How do we make sure sales & marketing are working together hand in hand, leveraging the latest available go to market models & technological means?
Organizational design is a serious venture – it should paint a clear & compelling picture for people to find their place. Hence the final challenge is to find & engage the best fitting people to propel the organization. However, before recruiters can go to work, hiring managers can set objectives, careers, and performances can be managed & team buildings can be organized, leaders need to make some choices here to: What roles are core? Which functions are critical? What do we do ourselves, and how do we balance our own resources with flexible project-based external capacity? What is our value proposition to them, what culture do we breed & breathe and what should be done to make sure all our various resources are engaged, motivated, and willing to walk the extra mile? And, looking forward, what needs to be done to anticipate upcoming trends & competence requirements? These questions can not be delegated to the HR departments but should be discussed & owned in the boardroom.
Leaders, the challenge is yours. You should care about this topic as much as you care about your growth & financial success. Winning organizations will be those who have better solved these challenges than their competitors.
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