Emerging patterns of work, technology, talent mobility, networks, shifting consumer preferences and supply chains are presenting leaders with a critical need to innovate their organization at all levels, especially management, in order to survive.
According to a recent Business Insider article, companies have to innovate rapidly. It’s a level of innovation that goes beyond just a workplace or technology solution. It’s an ability to innovate across an entire organization in order to adapt to new business models. In the article Red Hat’s CEO Jim Whitehurst states, “Frankly a large percentage of the Fortune 500 will be left behind. Change is hard.” He continues, “I think the majority will be left behind and be replaced by new companies. It will be the few great companies that are actually able to change.”
Transforming any organization is no small feat and for larger organizations it may be even more challenging. Business thinker and author Gary Hamel shares,
“What confronts every company, large or small…is learning to thrive in a world where change is discontinuous, unrelenting and pitiless… companies are much better at optimization than they are at rule-breaking, game-changing…radical innovation – and yet, that is exactly what is required in turbulent times.”
While management changes may be inevitable for organizations to survive, brave leaders must redirect the fear and apprehension that often accompanies constant change into positive actions that can open the doors to smarter investments and experiments, new workplace models, critical core skill development so that worker contribution can be maximized.
To elevate innovation, an effective workplace strategy must simultaneously address the social, physical, and technical components of the work environment as well as the financial considerations, since each factor impacts the others.
The workplace is the body language of the company. Its design and supporting structures send messages about who you are, what you stand for and what you value. While one’s connection to the company is largely financial, a good workplace can make that connection purposeful and emotional as well. As human beings, isn’t this what most people desire – connection?
We have a responsibility to make our workplaces work. From a business perspective, they need to be adaptable, located properly and support the activities that help us meet company objectives. But we also have an obligation, driven by our humanity, to make our workplaces inspiring, connecting and healthy — empowering us to contribute from within – who we are and evolve toward who we are becoming.
The business and the people aspects of the modern workplace are two sides of the same laptop. People are the source of ideas, production, sales growth and customer connections. If the workplace works for people, it will work for business.
The opportunities for innovation are right in front of us:
- Management Innovation: As the Boomers pass the torch of power and authority to the next generation of leaders – Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z, new workspace models will become the norm. How leaders lead and manage in the new model may be one of the biggest innovations in the coming era. The conversations executives are having today will be very different in just five years when the Millennials will comprise the majority of the modern workforce. The generation that changed everything, Boomers, still have one more change to make: paving the way for the more authentic, more cross-culturally infused workplace.
- Priorities: Organizations are spending money on workspace and technology, but leading organizations invest in the right areas — things that connect people, extend brand, drive innovation and send messages about who they are and what they really stand for to their customers, investors, contributors and potential hires.
- Footprint changes: Whenever we move, expand or refresh our space, we have an opportunity to make a significant, lasting impact on our company and the people in our care.
- Key success skills: We must redirect the fear and apprehension often associated with workplace change into positive actions that make lives better. Challenging changes, like those presented by new workplace models, outdated management and organizational practices, develop core skills critical for business today.
Managing costs will continue to be a responsible practice of management, however, the true reward will be reflected in making smart investments so that the experience of our contributors is the most enlightening and productive as possible.
Once we decide to invest in this noble effort to continuously innovate, there are experts, methods and tools to make it happen. Everything listed above can be prioritized, managed and measured and still remain true to business realities.
The workplace is where much of life happens. If we can get it right, we can make our contributors’ and customers’ lives even better. And isn’t that good for business and a modern world of work?
© 2015 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™. A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace culture design and organizational management to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society.
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