Is New Work something for your organization?

3 mins read

New work, agility, and self-organization have become a must for the modern employer. Large companies change entire departments from line hierarchy" to "agile and self-organized". Or they set up swarm departments speedboats or the like to get things to market faster. Maybe your organization is already part of it. The activities often result from a desire for a higher level of innovation a stronger customer focus or an increase in employer attractiveness. There may also be fears of being unable to keep up with the ever faster development of the world. For some time there are some large companies that control the lion's share of data services. The cost pressure in the production of goods has become enormous due to globalization. Therefore it may also be time for your organization to modernize the operating system.

But how and in which direction?

Many organizations upskill their employees. The employees ultimately generate value for the customers. Trends such as New Work or agility are a must. But are they really things that catapult an organization forward in any situation?

You may remember the situation of Steve Jobs when he came back to Apple from Pixar. What he found at Apple was not very good and development activities were very diffused. Competing products were developed in parallel. Steve Jobs cleaned up this situation a bit and stopped the pointless developments. Additionally, he had the drive to shake up the MP3 player and music market a bit. He focused the organization on the development of IPod and ITunes.

This ride was a bit the opposite of what is meant by New Work and self-organized agility. It was a situation where there was some seriousness because the status quo was unsustainable. It also needed a new growth theme. In this situation the reflection on the core of the organization that is on the identity and brand and on the customers and their needs for success.

It is often the case that success in the form of an above-average growth phase comes from a person at the top. With a strong leader at the helm, an organization gets enough emphasis to master challenges.

The approach does not need new skills on the part of the employees which are necessary for New Work and agility. Outer hierarchical structures provide enough guidance for the employees' freedom of action. They can peak-perform in proven and well-known models of cooperation. New work and agile self-organization need new skills among employees. A hurdy-burly action towards self-organization leads to frustration and unhealthy and unreflecting new structures that are rather suboptimal for the success of the organization.

Should you consider New Work and Agility at all?

It depends. In situations where there is little predictability and high complexity agile adaptive fast-learning structures are beneficial. Steve Jobs had found such a situation. Many different developments with unclear prospects for the future have argued for more agility. However, Steve Jobs changed the situation as such. He reduced the complexity. Uncertainty was of course unavoidable. Due to the reduced complexity, his leadership model became viable.

For your organization, the question is whether you can radically reduce complexity. If so then it is not necessary to send the employees on the long journey of competence building towards agility.

But even if it is a feat of strength to establish skills such as self-management reflection communication and competence management for many employees at the same time the positive effects are worth it. Employees are more satisfied, know each other and others better, values and goals are communicated more clearly and openly, meetings and communication become more effective.

Many advantages of New Work

Employees are better able to recognize their competences and get feedback more frequently which is in line with their own development and work environment. With such an offer you lay the foundation for allowing the organization to continue to develop well even if you use agile methods such as Scrum and Kanban only in doses.

This also gives rise to the courage for new deeds and adventures. Values such as Intra- or Entrepreneurship are suddenly real and not just lip service. Employees will also interact more confidently with the outside world leading to new opportunities for collaboration in ecosystems.


So unless you're in an emergency that calls for complexity reduction and you see the value in New Work and agility in more competent and confident employees for sustainable growth then you should be more involved in that direction...


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