You can’t have organisational agility without these 5 building blocks

It looks like organisational agility is the new black. But how do we get there? There is already a rich source of literature on agile practices that we should consider . However, our research has suggested that HR is less certain on how to adjust their processes to facilitate it. The good news is: we have identified 5 building blocks you should focus on to enable an agile organisation.

Looking back to the 20th century industrial age, the success of manufacturing depended on repetitive, predictable and highly standardised work. For businesses to thrive in such a static environment, process optimisation and “efficient Taylorism” were  the modes of choice. Therefore, talent practices were expected to be ruled-based and bureaucratic so that long-term goals could be reliably achieved.  At that time, it was the smart thing to do.

However, managing organisations as machines became less effective over time. As technology evolved exponentially, competition became global and predictability started to decrease. In the current fast-paced, highly competitive business world, continuous innovation is now a strategic imperative. The new volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions make it unrealistic to hope for “business as usual”. Chances are, whatever organisations did to get where they are today won’t keep them there tomorrow.

So, how can organisations prepare for a future that few of us can define?

To respond to change and uncertainty , software companies were amongst the first to set the example with an agile manifesto for managing projects. Through incremental iterations and cross-functional teams, a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration created and defined the baseline for high adaptability to change.

In the meanwhile, the term “agile” has evolved to become more holistic, and now represents how an entire organisation could operate.According to a report from Accenture: “Agility is a company’s ability to anticipate, sense and respond to volatility in its markets in ways that create competitive advantage”. This agile business approach has been widely accepted as something to strive for (a report from Mckinsey published this year suggests that 75% of companies believe organisational agility is a top  priority, and nearly 40% are currently conducting an organisational agility transformation).

At TI People, we have targeted the topic of agility from an HR perspective. It is clear that the current long-term and role-focused talent management practices are not suited for this new approach, and yet, there’s an uncomfortable uncertainty about what to do instead.

How can HR enable agility?

According to the same report from Mckinsey, there are 5 trademarks of an agile organisation. These include practices such as: implementing flat structures; empowering multidisciplinary teams (which can be quickly assembled and dissolved around shared tasks); using design thinking, sprints or other similar methods to foster rapid decision making and learning cycles; investing in leadership that empowers people and creates an entrepreneurial culture; and offering real-time communication and work-management tools to support speed and flexibility.

Although these are core practices of every agile organisation, HR has struggled to adjust its processes to enable agility. Most literature and advice out there is too general and lacks clear guidelines for HR. Thus, we decided to explore the topic further. Our research has suggested that skills and work need to be transparent before networks of empowered teams can emerge. And it is through this transparency that an agile organization can be managed effectively. Therefore, to enable agility its fundamental that HR focuses on skill management. 

According to our research, the common approach to segmenting the workforce is by level and function. However, to become agile it is essential that we segment by skills. Therefore, new approaches to workforce segmentation by skills are already emerging and it is predicted that they will become quite common by 2020 (figure below).

While we know HR needs to focus on building a skill-based organisation, two crucial questions remain: Where to start? And which technology to use?

1) Building Blocks of a Skill-Based Organisation:

Despite being a large and complex topic, our work with HR and non-HR professionals from the likes of Cisco, Solvay and Zalando, has allowed us to define an initial categorization system. In summary, we identified 5 building blocks.

1. Work Decomposition: Work and deliverables are subdivided into smaller and manageable components until the work and deliverables can be mapped to skills;

2. Skill Detection: Skills that are available in the organisation are made fully transparent

3. Future Skill Demand Prediction: Skills that are critically needed to fulfill the future company strategy are defined;

4. Work Skill Matching: Work will be mapped with available skills, career aspirations and preferences and supported by suitable technology;

5. Skill-based Talent Management: All talent management efforts are aligned with work / skill matching. As agile organisations won’t be able to rely on static job roles or organizational charts to determine processes relevant to each employee, such processes will need to be adjusted to the individual skills/projects. Examples include:

  • Job Design: have less rigidly prescribed job tasks to facilitate a more fluid workforce with spontaneous problem solving and experimentation;
  • Mobility: foster high mobility to enable everyone to pull the human resources necessary when needed;
  • Performance appraisal: substitute annual performance appraisal by ongoing feedback. Development and evaluation discussions should be separated so that there is time for more focus on the employee’s growth. Further, since work will be organised by projects, leaders will lack complete awareness of employees work and will need to source feedback from multiple sources;
  • Promotion and Rewards: provide instant rewards that reinforce desired behaviors when they occur. Promotions should also be clearly linked to results rather than tenure or seniority;

2) Technology for an Agile Workforce:

Due to recent advances in technology, several challenges around facilitating agile working can now be better addressed. Enterprise social networks, cloud-based collaboration portals and emerging software are making it easier to create highly dynamic team structures. Emerging software is providing ways to identify and describe employees’ skills and interests, to measure and collect employees’ accomplishments and to use gamification mechanisms to recognise accomplishments and earned skills. Moreover, team portals with social feeds support improved coordination and tracking. It’s clearly an exciting time for HR!

If you want to check some really nice real-life examples, you can read about the talent platform that HERE technologies developed, which provides visibility to skills and better matching of the right people to the right opportunities; or check how Swisscom implemented Startmind as “Ask the Brain” into their collaboration suite, allowing to get the right expert for any specific question.

Still skeptical about agility?

Research has shown that organisational agility can provide a powerful source of competitive advantage. Companies such as PMI identified several benefits of increased organisational agility:

Bottom Line

In the new VUCA world, organisations will need to embrace agility in one way or another. Being able to rapidly respond to changes is essential. Those that fail to do so may be putting their organisation at risk. Likewise, HR will need to reinvent itself and adjust talent management practices if it is to support the agile organisation.

Even though its importance is clear, our research has found that HR professionals feel that there is no common jump-start solution to enable HR to adapt to the new agile environment. The most common questions that we received were How do I start? and “Which technologies should I use?. With these struggles in mind, TI People is running a co-creation with companies such as Bertelsmann, HERE Technologies, Bayer, Bosch, Otto Group, Grundfos, E.ON, Cisco and others. Our aim is to develop a framework that will support organisations as they look to embrace agility, with a specific focus on skill management. If this is something that captures your attention, reach out to us to know more.

7 Underused Brainstorming Techniques to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Brainstorming is the age-old technique for generating new ideas, solving problems, decision making and even inspiring creative thinking. Sometimes though, it is not that easy to get the expected outcome of a brainstorming session.

When this happens, you should go beyond the traditional brainstorming techniques and adopt some new methods like the ones below.

Concept Maps

A concept map is a visual tool and can be used to structure a brainstorming session.

It helps organize ideas and illustrate relationships between them.

Put down the topic you are brainstorming at the top, and get your team to come up with any and all ideas related to it while you put them down under the main topic.

Then connect each idea with links that have labels on them to describe how each idea is connected to the other. As you complete your concept map you’ll have an overview of the issue at hand that will help you come up with a solution pretty quickly.

Concept Map Example on Concept Mapping


Sometimes, when everyone is speaking at once, trying to put their own idea out there, the introverts with great ideas will shy away from participating in the discussion.

And if their idea is actually good, you’d be missing a good opportunity to arrive at a solution.

Brainwriting allows you to overcome this issue, as in this method you give everyone in the group a chance to write down their idea on a sheet of paper.

This way you will not only be encouraging everyone to share their opinion, but this technique will also give more time to the participants to come up with ideas that would never have occurred to them within a larger setting.

Rapid Ideation

This technique uses a time limit as a catalyst for generating great ideas.

In this technique, the moderator of the brainstorming session provides the necessary information on the topic, budget, deadline etc. and set a time limit for the participants to write down as many ideas as possible around the topic.

While they shouldn’t try to filter their ideas, they can use any medium to mark them down, be it on a paper, whiteboard or on Google Sheets; basically, anything that they can use to get their creative juices flowing.

The session could go on for just a few minutes, or an hour depending on the topic that is being brainstormed.

Gap Filling

This is basically to get your team to consider what you need to do to get from your current position to your goal. In this method, it is important to set a relevant and attainable goal.

During the session, get the team to figure out what resources, how much time and what methods you should use to get to that particular goal.

As you fill the gap from point A to point B, you’ll get to paint a clear picture of what needs to be done.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis helps you look into the strengths and weaknesses of your company and figure out what opportunities and threats you might be facing within the industry.

Analyzing these four conditions in a SWOT analysis example like the one below will help you come up with better-informed ideas for the issues you have at hand.

New SWOT Analysis Template 6 (1).png


Instead of directly finding answers, in this brainstorming technique, you get your team to ask as many questions about the topic as possible. The questions should cover the who, what, where, why and how related to the topic at hand.

Questioning an idea thus does not only help understand it better, but it also helps you ensure that there’s no risk involved in taking an action by allowing you to consider all aspects of it.


Here you take on the identity of someone else, say your CEO, a celebrity, an expert in your field or even your client, and assume what they would do if they were faced with the issue you have or what they would do if they were to take action.

This technique will help you think out of the box while helping you overcome any anxiety that you may have regarding expressing an idea that you think would be not accepted. This technique is an ideal solution for those introverts in your team.

Reverse Thinking

Try to think of what everyone else in your position would do, and then do the opposite. This method, like the rolestorming method, will help you come up with unique ideas.


Not having a great time coming up with new ideas from your brainstorming sessions? Try these techniques out and see how they change the game for you.

Any other different brainstorming techniques that you use? Do let us know in the comment section below.

How To Identify The Hidden Gems In Your Organization

Considering how much money is spent on talent identification and development, it is disappointing to witness the blatant inefficiencies of the job market. How can it be that at any given point and anywhere in the world — including advanced economies — most people lament their job situation, while simultaneously most employers complain about their talent shortages? Clearly, a more efficient job market would see this gap between supply and demand reduced.

Although it is hard to imagine that large organizations are unable to find an answer to their talent needs internally, their default reaction is to look for talent outside. This is generally more time-consuming, expensive, and risky, especially if they care about culture fit. Conversely, sourcing talent from within tends to increase both job performance and loyalty, but only if it’s done correctly.

Unfortunately, organizations are not very good at identifying their hidden gems — individuals who despite flying under the radar and not having developed their full potential yet, are a company’s best bet on future talent. Most companies attempt to tackle this with formal high-potential (HiPo) identification programs, but with limited success. They focus too much on past performance and technical skills, and rely on manager nominations that are contaminated by politics, manipulations of credit and blame, and impression management. As a result, the typical HiPo looks a lot like a successful politician or someone who excels at winning a popularity contest, not least because of their focus on their personal career (as opposed to the effectiveness of the organization).

So, what can organizations do to improve on their internal talent identification processes? Here are a few key suggestions:

• Trust the science: Organizational psychology provides data-driven theories and systematic evidence on how to identify talent and potential (future talent). There is no excuse for playing it by ear, and trusting your instincts is a recipe for disaster. Admittedly, academic publications are not always easy to retrieve and understand, but even some basic training in quantitative social sciences will suffice to interpret the findings of major meta-analyses , which can be easily retrieved online. Leading organizations tend to advertise their methods as if they had found a secret recipe for talent identification, yet all they can do if they want to get it right is follow evidence-based practices — there are no real secrets unless you ignore the science.

• Get good data: With the recent rise of HR analytics, there has been a glorification of AI, machine-learning, and big data as a source of solutions for talent identification problems. Anyone interested in making HR practices more data-driven should celebrate this second wave of scientific management (100 years after the first version began). That said, not all data are useful, particularly in the absence of robust models and a good theory. It is also clear that the quality of the data does not depend on either their volume or variety, but rather, on their ability to capture, predict, and explain relevant phenomena. We can think of technologically-enhanced data as a powerful microscope that, if pointed in the wrong direction, will provide a really detailed picture of an irrelevant phenomenon. For instance, the realization that employees who go the bathroom more often are more likely to quit is not particularly interesting unless we understand that going to the bathroom is indicative of anxiety, boredom, or burnout. It should also be noted that asking employees whether they intend to quit will be a stronger predictor of turnover than monitoring how often they go to the bathroom.

• Focus on leadership: When betting on potential, the critical question is to predict future talent for leadership, for most people can only move up in organizations if they are able to transition from individual contributors to managers and leaders. This should facilitate the process of identifying your hidden gems, for the fundamental qualities contributing to leadership talent are fairly universal: good judgment, integrity, people-skills, vision, and self-awareness. However, most organizations cannot resist the temptation to pay attention to past individual performance, which muddles their assessment of leadership potential. Indeed, just like strong individual contributors don’t necessarily make good leaders, your best potential leaders may not be strong individual contributors. Think about professional sports: the best coaches were rarely the top players, and most of the top players fail as coaches.

• Focus on personality: With a well-established science dating back more than 100-years, personality provides detailed theories and predictive tools to identify leadership potential before it’s obvious to the human eye. Consider that around 50% of the variability in leadership can be explained by the Big Five factors of personality alone, with intelligence and dark side traits contributing significant additional variance.

• Use valid tools: There are multiple instruments and methods to predict future performance, as well as clearly defined mechanisms for assessing the accuracy of any predictive tool. Most importantly, do scores on whatever tool you are using consistently predict good, average, and poor performers in the future? And if so, to what degree? Fundamentally, valid tools enable you to de-risk your talent identification process by quantifying the degree of error and increasing your true positives and true negatives while decreasing your false positives and false negatives.

• Develop early: Finding your hidden gems is not enough, you also need to harness their full potential. The more sophisticated your talent identification processes are, the more “raw” your candidates will be, for you were able to spot their potential at an earlier stage. At the same time, the earlier you start working on their development, the more they will develop. It is a common mistake for organizations to invest their talent development funds in people who are very senior, when age is the biggest enemy of change.

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is a Professor of Psychology at UCL and Columbia University, and the Chief Talent Scientist at ManpowerGroup

Goodbye Structure; Hello Accountability

Digital technologies offer ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity, and massive processing power. These capabilities have created a business environment in which decision-makers can more readily acquire data to inform decisions and then shrink bottlenecks between knowing and doing. In this way, digital technologies are accelerating the pace of business.

All this speed is making business agility de rigueur. No matter how big or old they are, companies that hope to avoid a fate like that of the Titanic — sinking because they can’t change course fast enough to avoid calamity — must learn how to respond quickly to unanticipated opportunities and threats.

Well-designed systems and processes can certainly help make a company more agile. But even great systems and processes are responsive to change only if the people who use them recognize what needs to be done and how to do it.

Organizational structures are designed to clarify how a company will meet stated objectives. But they’re not necessarily good at helping people adapt to changing objectives. The result: Leaders will be able to operate as true digital leaders only when they shake their reliance on structure as the primary tool of organizational design and instead start assigning accountabilities in ways that instigate focused responses to opportunities. This is unlikely to come naturally.

What’s Wrong With Structure?

Traditionally, business leaders have structured companies to allocate responsibilities to distinct functions, product lines, geographies, or other business areas. This divide-and-conquer approach to organizational structure creates business silos, which are usually designed as hierarchies. In these structures, leaders assign increasingly specific responsibilities and tasks at lower levels of the hierarchy.

These siloed, hierarchical structures support operational efficiencies, but they are not effective in supporting digital, integrated services to customers. Integration requires coordination of activities across silos. Recognizing this interdependence, decision-makers refer a growing number of decisions up the hierarchy, where senior people can resolve conflicts across all affected business silos. As a result, key decisions are made far away from the operational reality, and then communicated back to where action will be taken.

Digital companies cannot wait for such elongated decision-making processes. But because they also cannot afford to ignore the need to coordinate across silos, leaders are reluctant to empower teams within silos to take independent action.

Restructuring Is Not the Answer

As business leaders recognize the limitations of business silos and hierarchies, they invariably attempt to add new structures, like matrices or networks, to make their structures more agile.

But adding structures is likely to make a company more complex rather than more agile. There are at least four reasons why executives should not rely on structure to provide improved organizational agility:

  • Restructuring is a bad use of management time (and everyone else’s).Reorganizations are exhausting. Constant introductions of new structures will consume precious management attention that should be focused on meeting new business demands.
  • Structures trap rather than empower employees. Roles within formal structures rarely encourage people to do what it takes to solve a problem. Rather, they encourage people to do the job they were told to do. It’s agile employees who solve problems.
  • Formal organizational structures often limit experimentation. Risk-averse individuals may be reluctant to try new things or note that an experiment is failing, if it bodes poorly for their organizational unit. Commitment to structure as a key design lever can limit learning.
  • Formal structures don’t fully leverage a company’s smarts. Traditional structures come with annual goals, budgets, and performance metrics. This means that the people at the top need to know what resources are necessary — they need to be the smartest people in the room. But when companies are moving fast, business awareness and creativity are highly distributed.

Most leaders recognize these limitations — they just fear the chaos that could result if they rely less on formal structures. Indeed, structures won’t go away. But what can go away is the reliance on restructuring as a way of introducing important strategic changes.

Lead Change by Assigning Accountabilities

Instead of restructuring, companies can initiate change by assigning accountabilities for specific business outcomes to small teams or individual problem owners.

For example, in our research at MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR), we’ve seen that at the banking and investment company BNY Mellon, more than 50 service leaders are accountable for creating and maintaining services like opening an account, making a payment, and reconciling a transaction. These service leaders are responsible for cost, reliability, and customer satisfaction (often internal) related to their service, so they coordinate with other parts of the company through collaboration as opposed to working through the hierarchy. This arrangement is allowing BNY Mellon to provide a more integrated face to customers without restructuring the business.

Leading change by assigning accountabilities involves specifying a desired outcome, putting someone in charge, and letting the responsible person decide how to accomplish the objective. Senior leaders need not divvy up necessary tasks; individuals or teams can quickly pivot as they identify what is and isn’t working.

For instance, like many digital companies, the Swedish streaming entertainment company Spotify supports its customer offerings through the efforts of small autonomous teams, known as squads. These squads define their own missions and develop their own goals, as well as hypotheses as to how they will meet their goals, testing and adjusting as they go along. Team membership shifts as the company refocuses priorities or as a team grows beyond an optimal size.

Assigning accountabilities like this differs from structuring in several important ways:

Individual flexibility. Companies designed around accountabilities focus on current issues and outcomes. For digital companies, most accountabilities revolve around digital offerings. These are natural because offerings start as minimum viable products that can grow if customers demonstrate enthusiasm. For successful offerings, assignments are likely to become longer term (and could lead to a more formal structure). Other individuals take on accountability for specific process problems that, once resolved, will lead to reassignment. People start to expect (and, in most cases, desire) to move to where they are most needed.

Less budgeting and more market-based resource allocation. Accountability owners take responsibility for making their solutions cost-effective. Owners of accountabilities attempt to meet the needs of their internal or external customers at a price those customers are willing to pay. They are inclined to recruit resources as needed rather than simply accrue a reservoir of talent. In some cases, they’ll recruit people to their teams; in others, they will look for collaborators. Thus, an internal market, rather than a budget, will dictate resource levels.

Experimental mindset. Because every accountability owner designs experiments to test hypotheses, it’s important to track whether an experiment is meeting with success or failure. Accountability owners accompany their hypotheses with proposed milestones that indicate if an experiment needs scaling up, tweaking, or abandonment. Failure is an option as long as the company has identified how to capture learning.

Coaching rather than managing. Because accountability owners are proposing hypotheses, defining metrics to track progress, and assuming responsibility for recruiting and paying for resources, they will usually know more about their roles than their leaders do. Thus, leaders must rethink their roles. To lead empowered teams, leaders have two important responsibilities: (1) aligning multiple accountabilities and (2) coaching individual accountability owners.

Assigning accountabilities rather than developing structures will be a radical new way of working for people who have climbed the corporate ladder in traditional ways. The demands for agility, however, make it imperative that leaders learn how to help their people adapt quickly to new demands and opportunities.

Getting Started

To develop accountability at all organizational levels, leaders must learn to empower their people without creating chaos. In turn, accountability owners must learn how to take responsibility for organizational outcomes.

When former BNY Mellon Global CIO Suresh Kumar revamped the IT unit at BNY Mellon around accountabilities, he noted that he was asking people to act like “mini-CEOs.” He found that some of the people he placed in this role were natural problem-solvers who seized the opportunity. Others regularly asked their bosses what they should do next. Not all could be trained out of old ways of thinking.

To get started, leaders should solicit the names of people who feel they have far more to add to the company than they are contributing in their current roles. This will help identify problem solvers and risk-takers. Leaders can assign them a single issue or digital offering. As they gradually designate new tasks to new accountability owners, leaders themselves will learn how to coordinate and coach.

There will be mistakes, and people throughout the company should know about those mistakes and learn from them. But as the process unfolds, it will accelerate the company’s digital transformation.

Winning with your talent-management strategy

Three best practices for managing and allocating talent support better business performance, according to a new survey.

The allocation of financial capital has long been recognized as a critical driver of an organization’s performance. The value of managing and allocating human capital, however, is less widely known. But the results from a new McKinsey Global Survey confirm the positive effects of talent management on business outcomes.1 According to respondents, organizations with effective talent-management programs2 have a better chance than other companies of outperforming competitors and, among publicly owned companies, are likelier to outpace their peers’ returns to shareholders.

The survey also sought to uncover the specific practices that are most predictive of successful talent-management strategy. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the effective management of human capital, the survey results reveal three common practices that have an outsize impact on the overall effectiveness of talent management as well as organizational performance: rapid allocation of talent, the HR function’s involvement in fostering a positive employee experience, and a strategically minded HR team. The survey results also point to underlying actions that organizations of all stripes can take to cultivate these practices and thereby improve their talent-management strategy and organizational performance.

Why effective talent management matters

According to the survey responses, there is a significant relationship between talent management—when done well—and organizational performance. Only 5 percent of respondents say their organizations’ talent management has been very effective at improving company performance. But those that do are much more likely to say they outperform their competitors: 99 percent of respondents reporting very effective talent management say so, compared with 56 percent of all other respondents.3

What is more, the effects of successful talent management seem to be cumulative. Like an overall effective talent-management program, the abilities to attract and retain talent appear to support outperformance (Exhibit 1). Among public companies, we see a similar effect on total returns to shareholders (TRS). At companies with very effective talent management, respondents are six times more likely than those with very ineffective talent management to report higher TRS than competitors.

The abilities to attract and retain talent, in addition to having an effective talent-management program, support organizational outperformance.

Three drivers of successful talent-management strategy

To support these outcomes, the results suggest three practices that most closely link with effective talent management: rapid allocation of talent,4 HR’s involvement in employee experience, and a strategically minded HR team(Exhibit 2).

Talent-management effectiveness is linked most closely with rapid talent allocation, employee experience, and strategically minded HR leaders.

Respondents who say all three practices are in place—just 17 percent—are significantly more likely than their peers to rate their organizations’ overall performance, as well as TRS, as better than competitors’ (Exhibit 3). They are also 2.5 times more likely than others to rate their organizations’ overall talent-management efforts as effective.

The three key practices for effective talent management also support organizational outperformance relative to peers.

Rapid allocation of talent

Only 39 percent of respondents say their organizations are fast or very fast at reallocating talent as strategic priorities arise and dissolve—a practice that leads to a 1.4-times-greater likelihood of outperformance. And while it is well established that companies with rapid capital allocation are likely to see higher TRS, our findings show that the same holds true for talent allocation. At public companies that quickly allocate talent, respondents are 1.5 times more likely than the slower allocators to report better TRS than competitors.5 The link between rapid allocation and effective talent management is also strong: nearly two-thirds of the fast allocators say their talent-management efforts have improved overall performance, compared with just 29 percent of their slower-moving peers.

To allocate talent more quickly, the survey results point to three specific actions that meaningfully correlate with the practice (Exhibit 4). The first of these is the effective deployment of talent based on the skills needed, which has a direct impact on the speed of allocation. Respondents are 7.4 times more likely to report rapid talent allocation when their organizations effectively assign talent to a given role based on the skills needed.

Rapid talent allocation is most likely when skills-based deployment, executive involvement, and cross-functional teams are in place.

Second is executive-team involvement in talent management. Respondents who say their leaders are involved in talent management are 3.4 times more likely to report rapid talent allocation at their organizations. The frequency of leaders’ involvement also makes a difference. At organizations that quickly reallocate talent, executive teams usually review talent allocation at least once per quarter (Exhibit 5). Finally, the results suggest that organizations where employees work in small, cross-functional teams are more likely than others to allocate talent quickly.

At a majority of organizations that quickly reallocate talent, executive teams review talent allocation at least quarterly.

HR’s involvement in employee experience

A second driver of effective talent management relates to employee experience—specifically, the HR function’s role in ensuring a positive experience across the employee life cycle. Only 37 percent of respondents say that their organizations’ HR functions facilitate a positive employee experience. But those who do are 1.3 times more likely than other respondents to report organizational outperformance and 2.7 times more likely to report effective talent management, though our experience suggests that the HR function’s role is just one of the critical factors that support great employee experience.

A couple of key actions underlie the HR function’s ability to ensure better employee experiences. One is quickly assembling teams of HR experts from various parts of the function to address business priorities. Just 24 percent of respondents say their organizations employ this characteristic of an agile HR operating model, and they are three times likelier than other respondents to report a positive employee experience. Second is deploying talent and skills in a way that supports the organization’s overall strategy. One-third of all respondents say their organizations’ HR business partners are effective at linking talent with strategy in this way, and those who do are over three times more likely than other respondents to say the HR team facilitates positive employee experiences.

Strategic HR teams

The third practice of effective talent management is an HR team with a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s strategy and business priorities. When respondents say their organizations have a strategy-minded HR team, they are 1.4 times more likely to report outperforming competitors and 2.5 times more likely to report the effective management of talent.

The factor that most supports this practice, according to the results, is cross-functional experience. When HR leaders have experience in other functions—including experience as line managers—they are 1.8 times more likely to have a comprehensive understanding of strategy and business priorities. Also important is close collaboration among the organization’s chief HR officer, CEO, and CFO.6Fewer than half of all respondents say those executives work together very closely at their organizations,7 but those who do are 1.7 times likelier to report a strategy-minded HR function. The findings also point to the importance of transparency with all employees about strategy and business objectives. Respondents who say their organizations’ employees understand the overall strategy are twice as likely to say their HR team has a comprehensive understanding of the strategy.

In summary, effective talent management—and the practices that best support it—contributes to a company’s financial performance. No one approach works for every company, but the survey results confirm that rapid allocation of talent, the HR function’s involvement in fostering positive employee experience, and a strategic HR function have the greatest impact on a talent-management program’s effectiveness.

The Next Generation Organizations

Frederic Laloux in his Reinventing Organizations mentioned that through the centuries, organizations have made major contributions to humanity’s betterment, including extending life spans, eliminating deadly diseases, making education available, and developing remarkable products and services that improve life and make it more enjoyable. Now organizations dominate the way human society is structured.

The reality for most people inside most organizations today is that work doesn’t work. The way we’re organized makes it harder for us to do our work instead of easier. The way decisions are made slows things down when it should be speeding things up. And the way we collaborate and communicate with our teams makes us feel like we’d be better off working by ourselves than working together.

A Gallup global survey of employee engagement found that only 13% of employees are actually engaged at work. 63% are not engaged, and a shocking 24% are actively disengaged.

In 1958 the average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 was over 60 years. Meaning once you made it on there; you could expect a good long run of prosperity. Today the average lifespan is just 15 years and it is keep falling.

According to August, most companies just can’t squeeze any more productivity out of their firms. A recent study found that there is a small select group of “frontier” firms that have figured out how to unlock exponential productivity compared to everyone else.

We now live in a world that is defined by exponential change. This exponential change is driven — not exclusively — but more than anything else by technological innovation.

The difference between these companies that are acquiring all the benefits of this new world is that the way they work is fundamentally different.

Unlike these successful companies, most companies today are still using an obsolete operating model that was designed over 100 years ago for a world that no longer exists.

On the other hand, one could succeed by working toward a clear and specific and usually profit-driven collective purpose. And all of this worked really well in a time when it was possible and advantageous to try to predict the future. This model worked really well when it was possible and useful to try to be certain about what was going to happen next.

This difference between optimizing for certainty vs. optimizing for uncertainty is at the core of what separates successful organizations from everyone else.

It’s no surprise then that most companies are finding it harder and harder to create any unique value at this end of the spectrum. Machines create exponential value, and very quickly those new technologies are available to everyone, preventing any one company from gaining a unique advantage.

Meanwhile, human beings are really good at the least routine, most complex, most collaborative, most creative work. And we’re much better than computers at this stuff. This is the stuff that’s really hard for computers.

And this is where teams and organizations of human beings working together toward a shared goal can create massive value.

This is where the world-changing happens. But, sadly, most organizations that we work inside of are optimized for certainty, when they should be optimized for uncertainty. Change is coming at us with the greatest velocity in human history.

Technology is accelerating the pace of business at unthinkable speeds, so much so that the job you have today is changing as quickly as you read this page. If we can barely imagine one second’s worth digital deluge, how will we get our heads around the stunningly different future of work. Because, to be clear, the team you lead and job you have today — if they exist at all — will be very different in 18 to 24 months.

Your ability to empower people to contribute no matter who they are or where they are, and to break the limits hierarchy, functional silos, cultural norms, and even the organization itself.


Work is changing. So much so, there aren’t even good words to describe where it’s headed yet.

According to LeadWise, work is becoming more centered on people instead of mechanistic systems. What does this mean? Basically, the people that work at/with a company will be more able to bring their full selves to work, instead of having to wear masks to fit into traditional corporate models.

These are People-Centric Management. These models aren’t monolithic in nature. While they share philosophical similarities, their main styles propose tools and paths to suit different organizations. The opportunity lies in adapting a more people-centric management style to your existing context. As a collaborative style of management, they often leads to a culture shift reframing value systems to include transparency, self-management, creativity as well as personal and professional growth.

By using these principles, these organizations have created systemic change in their teams, focusing on the core beliefs of people-centric management. These include enhanced employee engagement, optimized productivity through innovation and reframing control to the collective instead of a hierarchy.

Take a look at how these movements around the world are rewriting corporate narratives by putting teams first. These movements are taking us towards the next generation organizations.

Most of them shares common traits and values and these are all related and overlapping practices, and they are all part of a much bigger and lasting shift in the way we work.

The people, who work inside these organizations, will insist that things change. And that the organizations who embrace the change will thrive. And those that either resist it or ignore it, will die. But there’s a way to change that by harnessing open learning networks to pursue a purpose beyond your bottom line.

The organizations that embrace this shift are starting a revolution that will change the lives of hundreds of millions of workers and ultimately will change the world. Rather than learning with certainty, we believe the greatest opportunity rests with those who embrace “learning uncertainty”. Learning uncertainty is the agency and agile mindset that empowers now and future generations to thrive in a rapidly shifting economy that shifts from one set of known experiences to another at break neck pace.

The most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.

Let’s explore these movements in bit more details.


Started in 2009 by Brian Robertson, this movement replaces the traditional management hierarchy with a “peer-to-peer” operating system that increases transparency, accountability and organizational agility. The movement’s vision is to distribute authority among its teams to empower all employees to take leadership roles and make meaningful decisions.

Super Circle: Contains sub-circles.| Sub-Circle: Each is dedicated to a function.| Role: A task related to a function.

Holacracy is a self-management practice for running purpose-driven, responsive companies. By empowering people to make meaningful decisions and drive change, the Holacracy practice unleashes your organization’s untapped power to pursue its purpose in the world.

For more information, visit: www.holacracy.org


Lean startup is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning. The central hypothesis of the lean startup methodology is that if startup companies invest their time into iteratively building products or services to meet the needs of early customers, they can reduce the market risks and sidestep the need for large amounts of initial project funding and expensive product launches and failures.

The lean startup methodology was first proposed in 2008 by Eric Ries, using his personal experiences adapting lean management principles to high-tech startup companies.The methodology has since been expanded to apply to any individual, team, or company looking to introduce new products or services into the market.

“Using the Lean Startup approach, companies can create order not chaos by providing tools to test a vision continuously.”

“The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup-how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere-and grow a business with maximum acceleration.”

Lean Startup methodologies states:

Eliminate Uncertainity
The lack of a tailored management process has led many a start-up or, as Ries terms them, “a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty”, to abandon all process. They take a “just do it” approach that avoids all forms of management. But this is not the only option. Using the Lean Startup approach, companies can create order not chaos by providing tools to test a vision continuously. Lean isn’t simply about spending less money. Lean isn’t just about failing fast, failing cheap. It is about putting a process, a methodology around the development of a product.
Work Smarter not Harder
The Lean Startup methodology has as a premise that every startup is a grand experiment that attempts to answer a question. The question is not “Can this product be built?” Instead, the questions are “Should this product be built?” and “Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?” This experiment is more than just theoretical inquiry; it is a first product. If it is successful, it allows a manager to get started with his or her campaign: enlisting early adopters, adding employees to each further experiment or iteration, and eventually starting to build a product. By the time that product is ready to be distributed widely, it will already have established customers. It will have solved real problems and offer detailed specifications for what needs to be built.
Develop a MVP
A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a startup can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect question.
Validated Learning
Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods. The unit of progress for Lean Startups is validated learning-a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when one is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build-the thing customers want and will pay for-you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute

For more information, visit: www.theleanstartup.com


Responsive Organizations are built to learn and respond rapidly through the open flow of information; encouraging experimentation and learning on rapid cycles; organizing as networks of employees, customers and partners, motivated by a shared purpose. This involves several paradigmatic shifts with respect to traditional organizations:

Profit ➔ Purpose: rather than viewing profit as the primary goal of an organization, it is seen a byproduct of success.
Controlling ➔ Empowering: The people with best insight and decision-making ability are often people closest to customers or at the front line. You achieve better results by inspiring and empowering people at the edges to pursue the work as they see fit.
Planning ➔ Experimentation: resources devoted to planning are a less valuable investment than embracing agile methods that encourage experimentation and fuel rapid learning, a long term vision is still needed though.
Hierarchies ➔ Networks: it is no longer necessary true that coordinating through a manager is more effective than people self-organizing as a network with increased autonomy.
Privacy ➔ Transparency: the potential benefits of trusting people who share the organization’s purpose to act on information as they see fit, often outweighs the potential risk of open information being used in counter-productive ways.

A responsive organization is only as good as what it is responding to. And in order to maximize the next generation organization it needs next generation fuel. One of the premises of the future of teams is customer obsession. But how good are we at understanding customers? Are we feeding our organizations coal and oil when their new engine runs on electricity?

Read more on What Fuels The 21st Century Responsive Organization?

According to Helge Tennø, Founder and Principal at Jokull AS, we are redesigning our organizations to fit the 21st century. We are configuring them for learning, flexibility and adaptability. To unleash the wealth that is existent in their talents and teams and reap the rewards. But in order to build a responsive organization it needs something to respond to — it needs 21st century fuel.

For more information, visit: www.responsive.org


Developed over 30 years ago by Ricardo Semler, this management approach organizes wisely around humans instead of smartly around structures and procedures. It is designed to treat adults as adults and put people above organizational modes.

· Promotes building a culture of trust where there is a free exchange of ideas and transparency in decisions, meetings and planning.
· Advocates for innovation and creativity to be nurtured in their employees and companies.
· Removes control systems and returns accountability and self-management to team members.

These principles go well beyond the notion of self-governance and are interdependent: eliminate one, and the others become far less meaningful. What Semco Style isn’t is a recipe you should simply follow, it is not dogmatic or unchangeable. Semco Style is the result of a lot of trial and error, of taking a few steps forward and a couple back, and it strives to remain a work in progress indefinitely.

The Semco Style Institute aims to fuel the ongoing evolvement of the Semco Style of organizing by creating a community of Certified Consultants and Semco Style Change Makers who can learn from each other.

Most people, working in conventionally managed organizations, tend to ignore the imbalances in their personal and professional lives until the moment something goes wrong. It’s a highly reactionary attitude that leads to high-strung situations, deep regrets and a drained return to the workforce. Research invariably shows that people who are unable to dedicate enough time for their personal lives tend to be employees who are physically present, yet mentally absent. And it works both ways: People who work in high stress environments often find all that negativity reflecting on their personal lives, disrupting their familial and social relationships.

For more information, visit: www.semcostyle.org


Conceptualized by Auguste Comté, Sociocracy can be traced back to 1851. The movement has since remerged in 2014 as Sociocracy 3.0. It enables companies and teams to manage themselves as an organic whole meaning everyone gets a voice in the management of the organization. It is designed to grow effective, agile and resilient organizations of any size, from small startups to large international and national networks.

Sociocracy shares the values of democracy

· freedom and equality, and
· the right and responsibility of self-determination.

But sociocracy doesn’t just state values. It goes deeper. It is a method of organization and decision-making that ensures those values are implemented. Its principles and practices are very different from parliamentary procedure and majority rule. Majority rule can lead to a divided society and promotes competition and dominance instead of cooperation and equality.

Sociocracy is built on seven principles that shape organizational culture. Since the seven principles are reflected in all of the patterns, understanding these principles is helpful for adopting and paramount to adapting Sociocracy 3.0 patterns. Practicing Sociocracy 3.0 helps people appreciate the essential value that these core principles bring, both to individuals and organizations.

Effectiveness: Devote time only to what brings you closer towards achieving your objectives.
Consent: Do things in the absence of reasons not to.
Empiricism: Test all assumptions through experiments, continuous revision and falsification.
Continuous Improvement: Change incrementally to accommodate steady empirical learning.
Equivalence: People affected by decisions influence and change them on the basis of reasons to do so.
Transparency: All information is available to everyone in an organization, unless there is a reason for confidentiality.
Accountability: Respond when something is needed, do what you agreed to and take ownership for the course of the organization.

There is no comprehensive list of sociocratic organizations. Most prefer to be known for their work, not how they make decisions. The now include national and international associations, building and manufacturing companies, health care services, public school systems, villages, private schools, Buddhist monasteries, software companies, residential communities, colleges, a wholesale florist company, veterinary offices, and consulting firms.

In addition to consultants working internationally to help organizations implement the method there are a growing number of websites with resources, guides to training and consultants, and social connections. A network of sociocratic organizations and individuals is being formed to increase general awareness of sociocratic principles and methods.

For more information, visit: www.sociocracy.info and www.sociocracy30.org


re:Work is a collection of practices, research, and ideas from Google and others to help you put people first.

Started in 1998, re:Work is a website sharing curated guides, case studies and research about how businesses like Google and others rethink business to put people first. Their goal is to provide resources to help other organizations design workplaces to make people happier, healthier and more productive.

· Promotes managers acting as role models for continuous growth and improvement.
· Advocates for treating employees like owners.
· Removes unconscious bias replacing it with education, measurement and accountability.

re:Work is organized around ways you can make an impact in your workplace. Each subject contains tools and insights for addressing specific challenges.

Set goals to align efforts, communicate objectives, and measure process.
Make better hiring decisions through job descriptions, structured interviewing, hiring committees, and more.
Empower your employees to grow and develop by making learning part of everyone’s job.
Identify what makes a great manager and offer feedback and development opportunities.
Make informed, objective people decisions using science and data.
Examine team effectiveness and how to foster psychological safety.

Reduce the influence of unconscious bias by educating, measuring, and holding everyone accountable.

For more information, visit: www.rework.withgoogle.com


Introduced in the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux in 2014, this movement advances the idea of soulful workplaces that focus on their impact in the world versus management targets. By focusing less on the bottom line and shareholder value and by implementing agile practices, Teal organizations are reaching new heights in financial results and are outpacing their competitors.

The next generation of organizations or teal organizations releases entrepreneurship forces and self-organization to realize a given purpose. It creates pioneer organizations with increased employee engagement, productivity and meaningfulness.

Teal organizations exhibit three distinctive characteristics:

1. Self-management– Hierarchy isn’t relevant; neither is consensus. Teal organizations manage their processes through “peer relationships.” Most of these firms provide employees with special training so they can manage their own work.
2. Wholeness — Most Teal organizations believe rationality matters above all. Anything related to the “emotional intuitive and spiritual” side isn’t as important. Teal organizations want evolved, unified employees.
3. Evolutionary purpose — Purpose matters most in Teal organizations: what they do, whom they serve and how they want to evolve.

Teal organizations use an employee-driven advice process as part of each team’s self-management. Anyone in the organization can make decisions that affect the overall company if they first consult those whom the decision will affect and those with expertise on the issue at hand.

For more information, visit: www.reinventingorganizations.com


Today, organizations face a radically shifting context for the workforce, the workplace, and the globalized world of business in general. These shifts have changed the rules for nearly every organization, the way we think about culture transformation and the pace at which we must learn to evolve the functions of leadership and management.

All business leaders have experienced these shifts. Business and HR leaders can no longer continue to operate according to old methods. They must now embrace new ways of thinking about their companies, culture, leadership, their talent, and how they approach transformation.

Organizations are focusing on group of people, a “high-performance team” who share a common vision, goals, metrics and who collaborate, challenge and hold each other accountable to achieve outstanding results. The high-performance team is regarded as tight-knit, focused on their goal and has supportive processes that will enable any team member to surmount any barriers in achieving the team’s goals.

Also if we start analyzing the important characteristics for a next generation organization mentioned previously; based on these movements we can easily visualize the most active drivers and characteristics. Most of these movements have common characteristics and their vision is to provide a better organization, a better world.

We need to change how work works. The change is not so easy but not impossible. And all these movements are meaningful when empower people to look at organizations and be able to compare them so that organizations can be valued by their real value creation.

The new economy has brought the need to tap people’s curiosity, quest for knowledge and understanding in order to develop a sustainable society. Drivers actively affecting these next generation organization movements like Trust, empowerment, transparency, respect, versatility, passion, knowledge, harmony, merit, accountability many others acts as the major change agents for transforming into a sustainable organization.

In the age of digital, the most important thing for today is to make a people-centric Sustainable Organization (SORG) for the uncertain world. And these active drivers and characteristics can play a vital role in in transforming an organization into a SORG as mentioned above.

Time has come to shine the spotlight on those organizations with a sincere intention to have a positive impact on humanity and to put in the shadow the ones that tend to hide their real impact behind a “green veil”. We need a transparent, simple, speculation-free index that will bring back truth stolen by big corporations which tend to put profit above people, greed above needs and rule of gold above golden rules.

Sustainability has been a hot topic over the last three decades, although always at a very abstract and scientific level, disconnected from the concerns of the common citizen. Despite the various analyses being made by academics worldwide, most conclusions are still not considered as being part of the core of economic development. Sustainability should be considered at the genesis of any organization — business, non-profit, NGOs, government, any type or size of an organization.

In a transparent world, a balanced distribution of the outcome produced by organizations and a stronger economic development for humanity as a whole (regardless of people’s location or activity) can lead to a better life. Similarly, enabling all members of the community to observe organizations and compare them with others, in an accountable and speculation-free system, so that they can determine the real economic value these organizations produce, creates a transparency that will necessarily enable people to build organizations characterized by a strong and positive economic development — balance and stability necessarily lead to more economic value. 
 We have to enlighten people to get involved in a revolution, leading to a more sustainable model and, in turn, a fairer world. For organizations to become truly sustainable — we believe it is essential to create a new organization model: a more cooperative CEO, a new way for people to cooperate inside the organization and a new way for organizations to be measured by society.

To do so, we have to put under the spotlight organizations with a sincere intention to have a positive impact on any industry and by doing so, to put in the shadow the ones that tend to hide their real impact behind a “green veil”. Those malevolent organizations tend to put profit above people, greed above needs and the rule of gold above golden rules without any concerns regarding the long-term management of their assets.

For further info, visit SUSTAINABLE ORGANISATIONS — an introduction to a new model and algorithm, introduced by the writer Miguel Reynolds Brandão

If you have more interest, please learn about all of these through the Book ‘THE SUSTAINABLE ORGANISATION’ — a paradigm for a fairer society: Think about sustainability in an age of technological progress and rising inequality.

THE SUSTAINABLE ORGANISATION’ is also contributed by Soumyasanto Sen specially in regards to evolving next generation organizations and any feedback is highly wellcome.