Change has always been a challenge for organisations. Small teams don’t scale quickly, and the way large organisations are designed fails to provide the organisational agility that market and customers demand. The investments companies take to fix this will grow to $2,28 Trillion by 2025. According to Everest Group magazine, 73% of those fail to produce value or real change.
In over 20 years of working in innovation and transformation in various industries, I have developed a new set of tools and processes, that greatly de-risks these efforts. The Wicked Company is the result of that ambition to create more effective organisational agility. Our approach affects people and culture, process and tools equally. Three key factors shape every modern company.
Growth mindset and learning
The most successful companies today are the ones that understand the problem they are solving better than their competition. They also understand that today’s problems are moving targets or ‘wicked problems’. Therefore they invest more in understanding the problem to know quicker, what does not work. This lets them try more variants, and they discover new revenue streams quicker. Customers don’t need more technology; they need better ways to solve their problems.
As Hayley Hughes from Airbnb stated it: “The journey is never-ending.”, which means for every problem they solve, new ones emerge. To be able to apply this ‘Groundhog Day’ process of constant improvement requires different types of teams, targets and governance. Behavioural economics and service design are some of the methodologies we are using at The Wicked Company to allow organisations to get closer to the problem.
How quick is your organisation able to define a problem? Do your teams know how to contribute to understanding it? Can leadership pivot based on insights from teams on the ground?
Effectiveness over efficiency
Technology commoditises quickly. Therefore ecosystem upgrades only produce very short-term efficiency benefits for your business because everyone else does the same thing. Efficiency will more and more eliminate the ability to change. This, in turn, increases the cost of change as much as the ability to see what needs to change. It is classic Darwinism. The more you define your niche, the more likely change will eradicate you. Classic companies are locked into the idea that efficiency is king. Progressive or ‘wicked companies’ focus on effectiveness. If you only measure efficiency, you won’t be able to measure and detect effectiveness. I have seen many companies who do not even use modern tools to measure the impact of what they do every day but blindly throw more features at customers that no one wants or needs. Faster and more is not a value anymore. People have less time so that they won’t have time for your extra features.
Efficiency might make fewer customers leave; effectiveness will get you, new customers.
Do you measure if you are focussed on effectiveness or efficiency? Do you explore new ways to measure how effective you are?
New governance is a different type of control
The time of Ford’s de-skilling is over. Locking up knowledge and decision making at the senior management level or in silos will kill your company. Systems are the new products. They evolve and are complex. A handful of people in a boardroom can not understand a system enough to own the decisions. They can give direction and then let the teams questions, challenge, confirm and test every assumption. It needs a feedback loop and the right communication cycle for leadership and outcome-based teams to share and evolve iteratively. This substantially changes the role of the C-Level. Companies like GE and P&G have removed many managerial layers because they started to understand that they are inefficient. However, companies like Buurtzorg have removed governance from other decision layers like regional management, to make local teams more productive.
Companies like Cornerstone and Wellbeing Teams have adopted their clarity and simplicity of self-managed teams. In 2019, Wellbeing Teams was the first self-managing organisation in social care to be inspected by CQC, and even better, they were awarded the highest level in 3 out of 5 categories (less than 4% of organisations in this sector achieve this).
Self-organising teams are not just more efficient but can create a significant effect when given the right context.
Is your company helping teams being self-organised and more effective or are you just dropping new tools on them?
The organisation for the future does not exist yet, but even companies who have only adopted parts of this new paradigm are reaping in competitive benefits. The Wicked Company has documented and tested new ways of working, tools and processes from various industries to help build better ways of working and effectiveness to solve the problems of the future. Technology alone will not be our saviour. A Wicked Company will look beyond commodities to truly progress.
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