Many organizations are under a lot of strain. This obviously has repercussions on their employees: they feel a tremendous amount of pressure, exhaustion and a lack of recognition for their efforts. Ill-adapted so-called ‘productivity tools’ are making matters worse. It’s time to change. Time to rethink the structure of organizations and the function of technology in ensuring connected collaboration and sustainable performance.
At Across Technology, we are fans of the ‘talk the talk, walk the walk’ adagio. As we help our clients to be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership, we also want to fulfill this role outside our daily business. Consequently, we are organizing thought leadership events where a select public can reflect and network with peers on a regular basis.
On May 4 last, we gathered again with a group of C-level corporate innovators around the theme of ‘Fluid futures: how managing for speed and innovation transcends technology’. Main question: how can we rethink the structure of organizations and the function of technology in ensuring connected collaboration and sustainable performance?
Be teal or stay in the 19th century
Setting the context, we stated that we often still rely on the principles that Frederick Taylor developed in the 19th century already around hierarchical structures with a strict separation between ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’. In a VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainy, Complexity and Ambiguity), however, these principles don’t work anymore. A new approach is needed to solve the present complex problems of global markets and quickly evolving information streams. To address the challenges which come with managing generations Y and Z and to ensure a good work-life balance.
Belgian author Fréderic Laloux describes a new organization model in his book ‘Reinventing Organizations’ namely the ‘teal’ organization as a solution to the above challenges (read more in my colleague’s article ‘The future is bright, the future is …teal’). The teal organization is founded upon three basic principles:
- (Radical) use of self-management
- ‘Wholeness’, the principle of recognizing the whole person on the work floor and not only the useful resource
- ‘Evolutionary purpose’, keeping in touch with the meaningfulness of why you are doing something as an organization or individual
Create a great place to work
Wouter Torfs is practicing Laloux’s theory every day by managing Schoenen Torfs as a ‘Great place to Work’. Wouter shared the following insights with us at the event:
- Over the last ten years, a new vision has arisen on prosperity and work. In this, the pleasure of work and value creation for all stakeholders (so not only the shareholders) occupies center stage. Employees expect and appreciate this more and more.
- The importance of a company mission which appeals to all employees and company values jointly set up with them can’t be underestimated.
- To be able to connect, a new management style characterized by authenticity, empathy and vulnerability is necessary.
- The value of ‘wholeness’ as a new holistic vision on the person working is hugely important.
- When building an organization as a community based upon participation and mutual trust, connected collaboration and empathy are essential.
- Communication is the key to be successful because storytelling is the link between strategy and culture.
Since adopting this new management approach, Schoenen Torfs has won the ‘Employer of the year’ award six times. And they’ve quadrupled their turnover in the last ten years in what has been a flat to sluggish market! So it is clear that a teal organization has nothing to do with fluffy management. For Wouter the ‘why’ of the transformation is clear: “I noticed that the old methods simply didn’t work anymore, I needed to do things differently in order to survive. To me, a successful organization knows how to be relevant to people instead of being different from the competition.”
So, once again, much food for thought was provided at this Across Technology event. If you want to learn more about the transformation to a teal organization, please feel free to contact us. We will gladly tell you all about it. Of course, you are also very welcome to join us at one of our upcoming events! So be sure to get back to us if you have an interest in this.