The challenge we face is that most of our talent and business systems are designed around a hierarchy. Managers in charge, delegating work downward to their functional groups. In this new world of empowered teams, how do we “design” the organization to drive customer results, employee engagement, and a focus on quality and communication? How do we reward people, what roles do leaders play, and how do we move people from team to team as the business evolves?
The metaphor I’d like you to picture is that of a rich, beautiful, enduring fabric, one that is radiant and multicolored, stitched together to be flexible and comfortable, one that is strong, enduring and impossible to tear, and one that is adaptable and impermeable to many types of weather.
This beautiful fabric is like your organization: it is made up of many integrated but tightly woven strands, it is unique and beautiful in its own way, it performs and fits well, and it adapts to serve you for many years. Such a material is “different by design, ” and this forms the metaphor for the five fundamental themes for redesigning your organization.
- Rethink leadership
In the fabric of our organization, leadership is the backing, the structure, the underlying weave that holds the organization together. In the new organization, different by design, we also need a new breed of leaders. In our survey, 89 percent of companies tell us they have leadership gaps and 55 percent say its urgent—why? Because the type of leaders we need today is unlike ever before.
We don’t need as many middle managers now, so the concept of “leadership by job title” or “leadership by position” has to go away. One of the senior execs I talked with the other day told me “I don’t have time for mid-level managers any more. I can get the information I need to run my business through our digital information systems. If our leaders aren’t hands-on experts in their business areas, I don’t really need them.”