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How Companies Will Be Organized In The Future

This post was originally posted on Linkedin, 30 October, 2016. Slightly updated here.

Over the last few weeks, I have been pondering on how future organisations will look like. It all started with that I got a question from SoL Sweden asking if I was willing to share my thoughts on the subject and why not share them as well here?

It is well known by now, that we are in a period of transition to a new stage of being, living and working. The transition affects us on all different levels, on the social -, organisational – as well as on the individual level. The transition has its impact on the micro as well as the macro level.

As with the chicken and egg phenomena, you cannot take away the individual from the organisational change, nor the society change from the organisational change and vice versa. It is all very tightly interrelated. If you create an outer change, you will in a sense as well change a piece of yourself, and vice versa. If you change a bit of yourself, your surroundings will also have to change to match you. Or as gurus like to put it: We are all One.

If we take a closer look at the ongoing trends, or maybe a better word is “changing patterns”, with impact on the current transition related to organisational structure, we have:

Altruism – we are moving away from the egoistic perspective to an altruistic one. We will consider output that is good for all, not just Me. Holistic is the latest buzz word among business leaders. We have to consider how I, my organisation, am related to my surroundings. It is no longer justified, just to consider myself, or just my organisation.

Someone may argue that this does not apply to all. Of course not, we as humanity are moving together as a slow mass (although at an increasing pace). Some people are already ahead like 30 – 100 years before the majority and some others, on the other hand, are behind hundreds of years, if not more.

Empowerment – power is getting distributed among all of us. Each of us are stepping up into more power. A great example is social media. Everyone can make their voice heard. We are no longer accepting living in slavery like relationships. Neither in love relationships nor in job relationships, actually we are not accepting any slavery like relationships. The time when we gave away our power is gone. Female voices are getting heard. Black Lives Matters represents black people that have had enough. Indigenous people in US are coming together (almost 300 tribes join their forces for the first time!) to protect sacred land against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Digitalisation – the benefit of this is quite obvious. Information can and will be free. It is no longer privilege for some “Bosses”. Information can no longer be used as a force of power to get someone’s will through. Everyone who needs certain kinds of information will have access to it.

Self-realisation – Who wants to be just a brick in the wall? We all want to feel that we are doing something meaningful. Even though for each of us what is “meaningful” is of course individual. For some, it might be spending time with children. For others, saving the rain forest or designing chic dresses or making fun gadgets, or whatever gives us a feeling of satisfaction and meaning. We want to spend time with people we like, or actually love in places we thrive. Who has the time or energy to waste on bad relationships in wrong environments? (If you happen to be in such a situation, I only have one recommendation – make a change!)

Emotions – will be as important as rational arguments when it comes to taking decisions. For more info on this one please have a look at my previous post.

Literally everything is changing, not just that, the change is speeding up exponentially. Since everything is basically changing there are more trends that we could have taken into consideration when we discuss the subject of future organisations. But to keep things short and simple, let´s stay with what we have.

So what impact have those trends on future organisations?

First note that the change is supported by all trends. There is no way that you or your organisation will get away from it. This message is especially for those in successful organisations based on the old paradigm. It is so easy, especially when you are successful, to question the need of change. Please forget fence sitting. Remind yourself of Rom´s prosperous times, or Egypt´s glorious days or some recent examples from Kodak and Nokia. Either you develop or decline, there will be no room in between.

Change, will be a natural state for an organisation. The capacity to learn, to gain new insights, not just as an individual but as a whole team. To adapt to new situations and develop the organisation to a higher level will indeed be crucial. Reorganisation will not be on the agenda, since that will be the normal state of being.

Rethink hierarchy. There will be no need for rigid hierarchic organisation, with one boss acting like the almighty, deciding what to do or not to do. As empowered beings, we know if we can take a decision on our own, or if there might be someone else that is more suitet to do so. We will have more “organic” and fluent hierarchy that will not be based on money or a fixed position nor status, but rather on wisdom and what is most efficient for the overall purpose.

A clear vision will be important. There are some that question the future needs of vision in favor of “sensing what wants to emerge”. As I see it, our need for a clear vision will be, on the contrary even stronger than what it is today. A clear vision will keep the organisation on the shortest path to its completion. Although, since organisations will operate in highly unpredictable environments (since change is increasing), planning forward will be a waste of time – so on this level “sensing what wants to emerge” will be a totally sound and reasonable way of operating. (It is more of a tactical strategy.) A clear vision will work as a magnet that will attracts the manifestation.

The way towards empowerment is to embrace more aspects of ourselves. Like the examples above, to get more femininity we must allow ourselves to unleash our feminine aspects – and by doing so we are increasing our power. (This is relevant for both men and women, since we have both female and male aspects within us, some more of one, some less.) Until now, we have constrained our personality to fit certain situation, like the professional one. This takes of course a lot of energy and limits our skills.

In a highly unpredictable environment organisation will be forced to cope with what is at hand. We will definitely benefit from all our available skills, at least if we want to stay on top and since we want to achieve self-realisation. Everything is interrelated. Everything goes toward integration. No more silos, not in an organisation and not in ourselves. We will bring to work our whole personas and be whole people. Fully fit for taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions and its consequences. (Like deciding how big our salary should be and how much of it should stay with the company to sustain its mission and vision). That is why self-organised teams will grow in number.

Expect more original personalities, expect more joy and expect less stress. At the same time expect more cooperation and output and expect more trust. Trust is so important to create an innovative environment and for us, to dare to be fully human.

By the way, it will be difficult to tell, what is work and what is not. Working time and spare time will be much more intertwined as everything else. We will join a project as long as we feel that it corresponds to our values, resonates with our heart and as long as we feel that we are able to contribute. 

If you want to know more about this shift take a look at all the forerunners in this field. You can get a lot of hints of how the future of organisations may look. There are a several organisations nowadays around the world that are pushing organisational development forward. Frederic Laloux described some of them in his book Reinventing Organizations. Or join a meetup group on this topic. There are meetups popping up, as well as innovative organisations everywhere.

I recently attended a meetup on this subject (organised by Agile People in Sweden), run by three members from the self-organised organisation Enspiral from New Zealand. They shared very openly how they cooperate, how they take decision together and what works well and what challenges they have faced so far.

It was a true pleasure to see them sharing together, you could tell just by watching them that they had an unusually warm, relaxed and respectful connection. After the presentation I approached one of the speakers from Enspiral and asked her – what was the single most important thing that she appreciated the most in Enspiral. Guess what she answered? It was nothing of the stuff they shared during the workshop. It was to be loved at work!

Of course, this will be the natural state for us. To be in a loving environment where we give love and get love. And meantime do something meaningful for our Planet and society.

Of course, this will be the natural state for us. To be in a loving environment where we give love and get love. And meantime do something meaningful for our Planet and society.

If you have any questions, comments or want to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me. I appreciate input and love discussing the future!