The Future of Work Is Purpose Driven

by Mar 18, 2019

Customer experience has become a top focus in recent years for most companies. It’s no longer a build it and they will come world. Consumers want memorable experiences.

How people relate with the world around them can have significant implications on how a company serves them.

With the volume and different types of data we have available today companies can run more sophisticated analysis in more granular ways.

The rich data available can help a company offer personalized experiences based on individual needs and preferences.

What about the employee experience with the company? What are companies doing to create memorable experiences for the people who make it all possible?

How are companies using employee data to better serve them? Does your company operate from a mindset of making the employee’s life better, alongside that of the customer?

The Employee Experience

Companies have evolved in their ability to gather input from consumers by means of many social media channels today, but how well are they gathering input from employees?

“Most companies are still operating from a command and control paradigm focused on getting output from employees, instead of input”

The conflict between the demands of the present and the requirements of the future lies at the heart of why a shift in how we work is needed for at least three reasons:

  1. The environment is which tomorrow’s success will be earned, is likely to be quite different from the environment that confronts organizations today
  2. To succeed in the new environment of tomorrow, organizations must undergo significant and radical change
  3. Adapting to change places and extremely heavy burden on the leaders of any organization, but more so in command and control environments

Winning in the marketplace is heavily influenced by how well an organization makes and executes its choices, around the customer needs.

Customer needs are always changing and evolving. It has become commonplace to note that one of the hallmarks of today is change. Change is our constant.

Flexibility and quickness counts as much as vision and strategy.

Flexibility inside, enables flexibility outside of the company. When people feel their needs are being met, they will be more open to adapt to change to better serve the needs of customers.

Empathy is becoming a strategic weapon to not only understanding the needs of people within the company but adapting to those needs.

“Whether you are a B2B or B2C company is irrelevant because the customers are people. Companies need to evolve to the people-to-people business”

Major corporations have economic platforms that are as large as some national economies, yet most executives and scholars think of them as firms to be managed with centralized controls.

Moving resources about like a portfolio of investments, dictating which units should sell which product at which prices, and setting financial goals.

Becoming Purpose Driven

Today’s and tomorrow’s corporations are becoming more and more automated and mobilized, and so are people. Mobilization means more choices, more freedom, and more innovation, if you know how to make use of it.

Rather than the traditional organization of permanent employees working 9–5 within the fixed confines of some building, the future of work will be comprised of a virtual organization made up of people who work together from anywhere, focused on a common purpose.

This future of work movement is almost as if robust ivy were growing over a building, destroying its aging mortar and old bricks, and leaving only the vine as a supporting structure.

“The replacement of hierarchies to social enterprise models is needed in today and tomorrow’s corporations in order to meet the needs of people.”

People are customers, and people are employees, and both don’t want to be commanded or feel like they are owned like property.

Leaders can best prepare for this by learning to make a mental shift from hierarchy to enterprise. Shift from managing to leading. Shift from controlling to serving. Shift from command to shared authority.

We are witnessing not only a dramatic increase in the need for emotionally intelligent leadership but also a transformation in what we call leadership.

We need to change where and how leadership is practiced.

For example, by collapsing hierarchies you can respond to faster-paced markets and push decision making further and further down into the organization.

There are many technologies that are enabling customer personalization, such as AI, but the real advancement will only come from a shift of context.

The context shift is to move from organizations serving the needs of the masses, to people serving the needs of people.

Nonhierarchical companies also mean that most of us will have to be across more functions and be sitting on more project teams throughout our careers.

This will create more learning, more expansion, more experience and more engagement, translating to more loyal employees.

Part of the challenges moving in this direction stems from the education system which was built on the assembly line concept, to support command and control hierarchy.

“Traditional hierarchy will not serve the needs of the future — it’s too limiting. The relationship of skilled workers needs to change and be organized around a purpose, instead of an organization.”

Supporting a purpose allows you to accomplish great things without needing to worry about the next project. This approach to work will give birth to an explosion of independent contractors, freelancers, and flexible alliances. This is already happening.

The Shared Authority Enterprise

The consumer pyramid has been turned upside down. The boss is the consumer. The next step in this evolution towards a purpose driven economy, is to turn the pyramid upside down inside the company.

“The future of work is to be in the people-to-people business”

In today’s and future Fortune 500 companies that have grown so large and complex, there is an accelerated need to move toward decentralization and autonomous co-management structures.

Co-managed teams can be treated as internal markets. Most people initially resist the internal markets viewpoint because it breaks so sharply from the traditional hierarchy. This concept represents a different mode of organizational logic needed to thrive in a world where people come first.

Rather than think of organizational units as divisions, departments, and other traditional hierarchical concepts, the logic of internal markets re-conceptualizes how we work.

The internal enterprise can provide the advantages of free markets. Internal enterprises become accountable to performance in return for freedom of operations.

This shift in how we will work, does not change the need for hierarchy, but it does remove the need for one person to be in charge. The command and control paradigm we’ve been operating under for far too long, gets replaced with shared authority models.

In a shared authority model of work, hierarchy happens organically, and by selection of the people those leaders are willing to serve.

In a purpose driven organization, I could be the leader for accomplishing a set goal, or purpose for a period time, and someone else can step into that role for another.

The team shares the accountability and decides who will lead that can best meet the needs at that given moment in time.

The need for bosses, or control becomes obsolete in a purpose driven — people to people business.

“In a shared authority purpose driven company everyone is accountable to each other and everyone acts as an owner.”

Oddly enough in a command and control world, one person has to keep tabs on everyone, people can and often do find ways to hide out, and coast while making little to no positive contributions to the organization.

In a shared authority purpose driven company, there is no hiding out. With the immense freedom of operations, comes the need to act as mature adults and contribute ongoing to the success of the team.

Sharing authority creates unity, and unity enables teams to accomplish great things in record time.

Companies operating under the old command and control way of doing things struggle to organize internally to best serve their customers.

Purpose driven companies with shared authority based co-managed teams, have strong internal alignment. That kind of unity enables them to succeed at anything they decide to focus on.

The future of work of purpose driven enterprises not only benefits the people, but it makes sound business sense that will give companies a significant competitive advantage.

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