The future is all about connectedness. Dave Gray made that point clearly in his recent book “The connected company“. Online and offline social networks are getting deeper engrained in society. People start to grasp new opportunities of connectedness every time. To keep in pace with connected customers and clients, organizations must embody the same connectedness.
Agile, podular systems
The future company is built for agility. Small autonomous teams, like modular pods make up this company. Loosely coupled, each team or pod represents the organization and has the full intention to keep the customer satisfied. Agile, service oriented approaches are designed for complex, uncertain and fast changing environments. In other words, they are future proof. Or in Nasim Nicholas Taleb‘s words, these organizations are antifragile. They flourish in fast changing environments, whereas tightly coupled, production line type of organizations would only get in trouble. A podular organization is a fractal organization and operates like a swarm of small companies.
The backbone of the podular organisation
The magic of podular organization is in the support structure. This platform networks the pods together so they can coordinate their activies, share learning and increase the company’s effectiviness. The platform structures the pods in a balanced way that carefully weighs individual freedom against the common good. It is really the backbone of the podular system.
The growth spiral
Connected companies grow and learn over time, because they have found ways to share their knowledge with the larger communitiy. The connected company is like a living organism. Learning happens ongoing and gradually transforms into knowledge and experience.The teams are the learning fields where experimentation takes place as the teams respond to volatile and changing conditions. Platforms are the company’s long-term memory, where routines and habitual behavior are built up.
Leadership in the connected company
Power in networks comes from awareness and influence, not control. Leaders must create an environment of clarity, trust, and shared purpose. And then get out of the way to foster podular learning. Leadership implies also leadership of the network, the ecosystem of partners, customers, suppliers and investors. Management should mainly be focused on designing a light weight system that supports learning and performance. Management is a support system. It requires, listening, diplomacy, an eye for detail and a sense of the big picture.
The podular organization is tomorrow’s company. Society is moving ever faster towards full connectedness. Companies must speed up and respond to the demand of tomorrow’s customers in order to survive. As we are reaching the tipping point of connectiveness, foresight and future studies become even more critical as business strategy tools. Social networks will impact on businesses. And what Gray elegantly shows is that, “It takes a network to serve a network”.