With today's ever-accelerating flow of information, the organizations that succeed are the ones who have agility grafted into their DNA.
At their very core, companies must now be structured in a way to encourage adaptability and iteration, both internally and externally, or risk falling into the pack.
It's part of the thesis behind the manifesto championed by The Responsive Organization, an effort created by Yammer co-founder Adam Pisoni, stating that, "As the flow of information increases, companies are gaining competitive advantages by shifting their focus from efficiency to their ability to learn and respond rapidly to new information. " Responsive organizations are optimized to encourage experimentation and learning and are shifting away from the hierarchical structures of old.
The way we think about corporate structure is changing--is your organization changing with it? Inspired by The Responsive Organization Manifesto, below are six fundamental shifts that companies must take place to be competitive in today's evolving economy.
1) From Efficiency to Responsiveness
This is the difference between an organization optimized to be good at producing an existing product and one that's great at iterating quickly to create the next great product. Adaptability is the cornerstone for a Responsive Organization. Companies need to prioritize flexibility over efficiency and reduce friction in the flow of information. The companies with the quickest reactions will own the competitive advantage.
2) From Hierarchies to Networks
Hierarchies, though efficient and predictable, are often implemented at the expense of responsiveness. Today's organizations need networks that promote an open-flow of information, speeding up execution and giving context to individuals to make decisions. Networks produce a higher level of transparency that in return improves information sharing and quality.
3) From Controlling to Empowering
This idea of moving from a controlling organization to an empowering organization has been one of the most apparent principles in building my latest company Porch.com. In a startup, change is unrelentingly rapid and individuals must be versatile and empowered to make equally timely decisions. Instead of a process of reporting up formally, I like to personally spend time with teams, working together on particular problems to gain alignment and trust. Our teams connect in-person, discuss, make decisions, and move forward. It is better to move fast, be nimble, and make occasional mistakes versus paralyzing the organization with analysis.
4) From Extrinsic Rewards to Intrinsic Motivation
Responsive organizations realize that employees are seeking more than just extrinsic rewards. Not to say that things like salary and benefits are not important, but as the rate of change increases, some targets and goals become obsolete. When that happens, there needs to be something deeper to push employees forward. The Responsive Organization's manifesto says it best stating that, "employees must be aligned on common objectives, be encouraged to experiment, and be provided an environment in which they gain autonomy, mastery and purpose." The result is sustained employee engagement throughout the ups and downs of change.
5) From Traditional Workplaces to Connected Workspaces
Responsive organizations realize that the boundaries for the traditional workplace are expanding. Productivity is not limited to time within the office walls and companies are adjusting their practices accordingly. While limiting the amount of time for information sharing is important (so that more real work can get done), remaining in synch is even more critical. At Porch, we have become adept at using Sunday nights for weekly update emails across the team. This allows us to remain in lockstep with limited meetings and bureaucracy during the week. Starting Monday morning, we put our heads down and get working.
6) From Customers & Suppliers to Community
The responsive organization can transcend it's own boundaries to move quickly and be agile within its community of partners and customers. These entities are no longer to be treated as separate and it's now essential to build pathways for information to flow freely and efficiently between parties. At Porch, we have well equipped teams dedicated to all of our major partnerships because today, companies realize the value of better information, fast feedback, and collaboration.
Building a responsive organization takes leadership and clear direction. Take a deep look at your own organization and evaluate the ways in which you can remove bureaucracy and inject adaptability.