Organisational Development in focus – 5 critical allies (or influencers?) in preparing organisation for generative change

The only constant in the organisation development is change – generative change that propels growth and renewal. Being prepared for change is the main factor leading to successful organisational development initiatives.

How to prepare an organisation for generative change?

While in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, change predictions are short term, some trends can be well spotted.  As management need to sort out the priorities in the organisation development interventions, considering the evolving trends in setting these priorities will give them and their organisations leap advantage in preparing for change – shaping and driving its adoption. They will define the change, rather than assume it.

Here some influencing trends that are shaping and re-focusing the OD work:

  1. Growth of transversal and multi-generational teams

Transversal, or the cross-functional, roles are becoming a business norm especially for high performing teams.

The workforce of today is composed of different generations of workers (Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials, and Baby Boomers). Creating teams with members that work transversally and belong to different generations may generate significant business value when managed properly, as well as it may create unprecedented challenges when left unattended.

Often HR and business managers react when caught in the hit of emergency. This approach has shown to be costly. Finding effective strategies for enabling teams to work better across functional and generational boundaries is the key to generate growth and efficiency in the evolving business dynamics.

OD work can guide a purposeful inclusion and strategic leverage of this evolution which create the flipping point between stagnation and renewal. This will particularly influence the organisational design models, the stakeholder management approaches, and particularly the learning and development strategies and solutions.

  • Hybrid organisations – Redefinition of the job of the future & Changing face of Talent Management:

According to a McKinsey study 27% of the workforce in the US was self-employed in 2017; while in Europe-15 this amount to 22%.

The increasing trend of the self-employed workforce is expected to have a big impact on the workforce laws and tax models. But most importantly it is directly impacting the design of jobs, the models of recruiting and the nurturing of talent.

The hybrid organisations, composed of employees and independent professionals are entering the “mainstream phase” of the model maturity, with more and more organisations opening up to the independent professionals. Yet, most of the organisations are still in the phase of figuring out how to make the hybrid model ignite organisational growth and renewal. Aspects of nurturing diversity and inclusion become acute, as do those of common/coherent ways of working, of shared goals and of shared values (i.e. of culture aspects).

OD work is challenged to encompass the systemic changes at large and to consider the members of an organization on their multiple roles and evolving identities.

  • Increased workforce agility and redefinition of Succession Management

As baby-boomers prepare for retirement (by 2030 all the baby-boomers would have reached the age of 65) and the youngest generation enters the workforce with a dynamic that is firmly questioning established HR functions and practices, succession planning is in a “critical path”. Not only shall the managers assure succession of the wisdom of the departing employees, but they shall assure the organisation keep performing while transforming in response to the impetus of the younger generation of management.  Establishing a healthy balance between retention and attrition appears to escalate in the management agenda. Their definition is drastically changing.

We know now that the challenge in Succession Management is not the replacement of a departing or retiring employee with a younger and experienced one – rather in replacing a “legacy system” of experience, competency, thoughts and believes, with a “new system” that evolves at a much faster pace than ever before and in managing the co-existence of different legacy systems.

While the brain drain may inhibit growth, I’ve found that the application in the OD work of generative strategies for business renewal is helping organisations reinvent succession management. The success stays in the preparation and shift of perspective. The leverage of cross-generational teams and transversal roles teams becomes a strong ally for Succession Management as workforce becomes increasingly agile.

  • The birth of wired organization

The increasing use of smart gadget apps from interconnecting on after-work activities to capturing information of workforce performance attributes, is making its way into gaining deeper insight on optimizing team and organisational performance.

Pervasive within circles of the youngest generations, the smart gadget apps are redefining interconnectivity and the value system of relationships intragenerational groups and as a result are creating strains among generational groups which are guided by other value systems.

The birth of the wired organisation is redefining the OD work context, methods, and pace.

Collaboration, learning and productivity applications easily exploitable from app-enabled devices can be used to enact individual, team and organisation wide changes quicker, and with better results. They can also be used to collect data on the progress towards the change goal. In addition, they can be used to benchmark and create “non-intrusive” insight on workforce performance attributes. Such insight can create breakthrough awareness and subsequent culture change.

While post of the OD professionals are making themselves aware of and at ease in using new collaborative technologies, their challenge is to create shared acceptance in make them beneficial at the individual self-development level.

OD professionals shall facilitate the purposeful adoption of these gadgets, the contrary will cause an organisation to lack behind in speed and depth of self-renewal.

  • Increased organisational complexity

The adoption of new technologies, the diversifications of business activities and on top of that the shortened life-cycle of products or solutions  both in the production and the consumption process) have increased the complexity of interaction dynamics in our organisations. The job of the future will no longer be a function, but a set of tasks that an individual will carry according to what he/she is best placed to do. 37% of the jobs will be new in 2022, as compared to 22% in 2018. So, not only will we have cross-functional, cross-generational and virtual teams, but also new jobs will be created for which we have no titles yet and jobs will have no standard definition, they will be a collection of tasks and their composition will depend on the talents of the individual.

Organisations that are starting now to create the right flexibility in their job definition, performance management and reward systems, will as a result build agility and create space to let grow the new on the ruins of the old. Transforming while performing will be the norm for sustainable growth.

Yet, most of the companies start their transformation projects on the hit of a crisis. The preparation work is missing, and the success rate is souring. OD work will need to step up to this new organisational reality and become a role model into acquiring the skills for leading the future.

The increasing use of cross-functional teams, the increased diversification of teams, and the amplification of the wired organization effects create a promising ground for positive viral change.

Organisational Development strategies and their delivery expertise are put on the spot.

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