Reshaping the Organisation

Blog post
By David Taylor | 9 March 2018

When we use the word ‘organisation’ to describe the body of people that delivers the vision of a business, we imply a particular system or structure is in place. The truth is that until recently, most organisation charts looked the same. They were pyramid shaped with the C-Suite executives at the top. Perhaps these executives lived on a separate floor of the office building, had their own parking spaces and were rarely seen.

Over the past decade or so, this traditional organisational model has been under attack with the increasing awareness that C-Suite executives are most effective when they lead and inspire rather than command and control.

The Agile principle that puts the customer at the heart of all organisational activity, projects and focus is now extending to the organisation chart itself, with the pyramid shape becoming circular. The customer is the central piece around which all else pivots. The CEO and Board make up the outer rim of that circle, and in between sits the company’s people.

It’s often been said that people are a business’ number one asset. Personally I have never heard anything so patently ridiculous – people are not your number one asset, they are your only asset. Without them you have nothing.

The only way to control your people…

…And to get them to do what you really need them to do, is to set them free, within clear, defined and very wide boundaries.

To get the very best from your organisation’s only asset, free them up to apply the skills, passions and genius that they already have. Indeed, if all you did was identify, unlock and unleash one single talent in each of your people, that they are not currently using, your success would be assured.

And your people would give their very best.

Why? Because people love doing what they are really good at, and are really good at what they love doing.

Forgive me – Duh!!!

So, don’t wrap your people around your organisation…wrap your organisation around your people – the very opposite of the traditional, other way around.

It is time to stop squeezing the assets – and to set them free.

Look at Google’s famous 20% time. Allowing their engineers to work on anything they wanted for 20% of their time resulted in some of the company’s most successful products such as Gmail for instance. Once you set your people free – within agreed, wide boundaries - the results are phenomenal.

I know this from work we have done with Ford, Veolia, NHS Blood and Transplant and others. I also know this, to my great regret, from my earlier life in IT - endless change programmes that changed nothing, competency frameworks that sent everyone to sleep and weekly new initiatives that no-one understood.

There is a new business age coming – the leadership economy - when people love their ‘work’, find meaning in what they do and are happy each and every day.

And when does this new agile, mindful and profitable age begin?

Whenever you so choose.

David is a Fellow of the Agile Business Consortium, the Business Ambassador for The Princes Trust and Visiting Professor at Business Schools.

He is the Founder of ‘Naked Leader’, author of the fastest selling business book in the world, ‘The Naked Leader’ and four global best-selling follow-ups.



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