The Steam Train in the 18th century. The Telephone and the Light Bulb circa 1870.
The World Wide Web in the 1980” s …
What does any of the above have in common with where we find ourselves in present day?
“4IR” is now upon us!
Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Nanotechnology, Quantum Computing, Biotechnology and 3-D Printing – This is the 4th Industrial Revolution!!
As things change at a rapid pace, it is less about how strong or intelligent we are as a species, and more about how we adapt to this change (Charles Darwin; Naturalist and specialist in the science of Evolution 1809 – 1882). Disruption is a word that is freely used but very often not properly understood. In fact, the only thing that is constant in today’s world is change.
Organisations urgently need to adapt and become Agile or they will be left behind!
This is best described in one of Aesop’s Fables where he speaks of the oak tree and the reed. While the strong oak tree trusts its strength to withstand the storm, it is blown over. Lying on its side it sees the reeds bending with the wind to survive the storm.
Building a sustainable organisation that can adapt to this ever-changing environment begins with leadership, a mind-set change, a specific set of self-developed skills, and continued learning.
This “Modern Economy” has become so complex that the best thing to do is to stop predicting and trying to control this environment, and rather to listen, sense, adapt, and respond.
Frederic Laloux (Reinventing Organisations) clearly explains what he perceives the history and or the evolution of Organisations Paradigms. He labels five different paradigms each with unique characteristics by colour starting with:
RED – The Red paradigm is the oldest and was developed by tribes. The unique characteristics of a Red paradigm are those of Power and Fear. These being most useful in situations of Chaos. However, a powerful leader is the only thing that can guarantee the success of the group. He or she will need to command authority and set rules in order to divide labour. Organisations that have successfully used the Red paradigm include Street Gangs, Mafia, and the Tribal Militia. It is highly unlikely for a Red organisation to become Agile and this paradigm is at continued risk of losing its leader, which will ultimately result in the organisation failing.
AMBER – The Amber paradigm evolved as the Red power structures could not accomplish long term sustainability. Amber emerged with typical hierarchy like that found in the Roman Military under Julius Caesar. Leadership was established by status and not physical prowess. Common characteristics found in an Amber paradigm are that of hierarchy, stability and exerting control on the lower levels. The breakthrough of an Amber organisation is that of having the ability to take long term views, developing strong Process and creating Formal Roles within the hierarchy. Examples of Amber organisations today are that of Public Schools, Governments and traditional Churches. Amber organisations begin to hit their limits when conditions change, and high levels of Process and Bureaucracy begin to creep in, which ultimately aggravates Agility.
ORANGE – Orange organisations evolved when the Amber paradigm could not adapt to change. The start of the French and American Revolution sparked this shift. Key characteristics of an Orange organisation is that of Competition, focus on Financial Profits and Growth and a switch to Objective based Management where leaders set the strategy and lower levels within the hierarchy are given some level of freedom of how to carry out the plan. Breakthrough ideas in an Orange organisation are Innovation, Accountability for reaching the Objectives as laid out by management, and the ability for individuals to rise through the hierarchy structure based on their skills and experience. Orange organisation are the predominant perspective in the world today, and most large-scale corporations’ function with this paradigm. Orange however has recently begun to hit its limits as employees feel that the profit motif is not fulfilling enough, which causes them to become disengaged with the organisation and they begin to see themselves as simple cogs in a machine.
GREEN – A Green paradigm has now emerged as people seek to find more and more meaning in their work. Key characteristics of a Green organisation is a focus on Delighting Customers, making decisions based on a set of Shared Values, and High Engagement from everyone within the organisation. The breakthrough ideas in a Green paradigm are that of balancing the needs of all Stakeholders including Customers, Employees, Partners and Suppliers, a focus on Culture over Strategy and true Empowerment of employees within the organisation regardless of their level within the hierarchy. The Agile movement lends itself to organisations with this perspective.
Laloux continues to write of the TEAL paradigm but that is a discussion for another day.
Organisation Leaders need to embrace change and adopt a Green paradigm mind-set. They need to develop skills that will assist with driving an Agile an environment. They need to have a High Tolerance for Ambiguity and they must assume their position with no concrete knowledge of what their corporation will look like beyond three years.
Leaders must develop the ability to properly project and adapt to the type of climate the organisation will need to endure through this world of constant change and disruption.
Leaders will also need to have the ability to embrace new technology in an attempt to keep their competitive edge.
They must have the power to inspire and assemble the best possible talent. They must develop Agile Decision-Making Skills and most importantly they must master the art of keeping all stakeholders engaged with the organisation, its Mission, its Vision and its Values.
The Future is now. Adapt or become irrelevant.
If you were given the choice between a trained surgeon and an untrained surgeon, who would you choose? What if I told you the cost of the untrained surgeon would be only 40% of that of the trained surgeon; would you still make the same choice?
Many companies and employees do not recognise the importance of employee training and often do not send their employees for the following reasons:
Employees claim to be too busy
Time spent out of the office causes delays in completing projects
The employee was trained when they first started, so why do they need more?
The truth is though, that with today’s ever changing world, if you do not keep up with current trends and technology then you will be out of the game.
Strengthen your workforce
Many employees have weaknesses in their workplace skills. By identifying these weaknesses and sending the employee for training, you will help to strengthen those skills, making the employee more knowledgeable and of greater value to the company.
Training is vital for a company’s development and success. Employees also stand to gain the following from further training:
Employees gain new skills, increasing their contribution to the business and building their confidence.
They’re upskilled to do new and different tasks, which keeps them motivated and fresh.
The training they do can take them into other positions within the organisation – positions with better prospects and/or better pay.
The team all has the same understanding of what is expected of them allowing them to meet the company’s expectations.
Because they’re being trained on your time, they see that you value them enough to invest in them.
Sending your employees on regular training makes business sense. It may take some time before you see a return on your investment, but long-term gains make a difference. The short-term expense of training ensures you keep productive, well trained and motivated employees – and that is priceless!
So make sure you are the well-trained surgeon in your industry – the company with whom people want to do business, as well as the one to work for.
Money, moola, the big cheddar, dolla dolla bills… That’s the bottom line right? This is what it all comes down to at the end of a campaign when the people at the top are talking conversion, numbers, ROI’s and other measurables. And yes, there is no denying that this has always, and will always, remain an important factor when it comes to the awarding of campaigns amongst the many agencies vying for a piece of the corporate pie. But this only highlights the question – are procurement departments selling the soul of our brands to the lowest bidder?
Everyone has bills to pay. Stakeholders to keep happy. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like to be “that guy” that stands up every month with a success story laden with sales, consumer reach, Facebook likes and blog impressions? So yes money, money, money is the bottom line. But can we forget about the reason we are all here? To build a brand. To create experiences that evoke human emotions. To connect with our consumers face to face in a space that is relevant and real.
To make a difference.
There is no avoiding the fact that we operate in a market that is more and more living, or should we say existing, online. Our consumers are spending an average of 3.5 hours a day on social media. 3.5 hours? A day! That’s crazy. Now if we break that down at 8 hours a day to sleep, 8 hours for work, a couple of hours to eat, work out and maybe have a social interaction, it only leaves a mere 6 hours. 3 and a half of these disappear into cyber space. We are left with a sacred 3 and a half hours a day to do something that matters.
Take a moment to think about that.
Scared? Because I am.
Human beings are forgetting to live. Presenting the filter coated, check-in ready, always available online image, is where our society is at. Is it true reflection? Does it matter when perception is often nine tenths of the perceived truth?
This human regression, fuelled by a technological progression, has its pros. There is no denying that our brands need to have a presence in a space that offers an ever present audience to receive our brand message. Our consumers are available 24/7, 365.
But not aware.
Social media bombards us with politics, opinions, selfies and watered down arm chair activism. Is this where you want your brand to live? Because it’s sure not somewhere I want to live.
In this online era, the greatest asset to all our brands is the human touch. Interaction is how we build relationships and instil confidence. Experience is how we evoke emotion. Emotion is what bonds humans and grows a loyalty that can never be bought in the way we can buy Facebook likes. Can we really put a price on that?
The greatest return on investment a brand could hope for would be a loyal consumer, who advocates for the brand with integrity. This ultimately translates into sales. The Money, moola, the big cheddar, dolla dolla bills…