Human Capital & Organizational Design

 In Archive

After I posted my previous article “Association Framework: Future for working in the Digital World”, two things happened over the past few weeks. First, there were emails, messages, phone calls and animated conversations ranging from absolute agreement to outright skepticism of the concept – and everything in between! I loved all of the discussion and gave me some ideas to think about I hadn’t before. Second, many wanted to know possible implications & impact on current organizations’ structure, especially from the human resources point of view. In short, how will this work….Let me pen down my thoughts on the Human Dynamics and the challenges that organizations will face to evolve in the new world.

As we all know and agree, the only constant in life is change. It is inevitable and it is needed. For centuries industry has evolved and changed and there is nothing new about it. So, why is it different this time and should we really think about it? The major attribute that has altered is the “Speed” dimension of change – it has accelerated and it keeps accelerating. Anything that changes at an accelerated pace causes anxiety, anxiety leads to stress and excessive stress is counterproductive to the performance of individuals as well as organizations. So, as the change is inevitable, we need to make it an inclusive & sustainable change– hence we need to understand how to manage the human aspect of the change.

Cultural Shift

Change in the mindset of the individual as well as the organization is by far the biggest challenge that we have to overcome. For the individual, there is a set pattern that has evolved around work in the IT sector. For most of the previous two decades, most people assumed that their university education, computer science & engineering background and white-collared profile would keep them afloat throughout their career. Similarly, the organizations have nurtured complementary values and moved in tandem.

 In this fast changing world, the very fact that the eventual career that the bulge layer is taking for granted would have to be refactored. For the individual, one of the ways to ride the new wave is to acquire skills rather than just experience. For the organizations, applying the principles of reusable work block to resources will become critical. Regional and global cultural dynamics will have to evolve to bring in acceptability.

 Social Dimension

In most cultures, job & work impact multiple social facets like stability, prestige and social standing. In the world that we live in today, a job is not only for an individual. The entire family is associated with the job – and it is looked at as something that enhances or diminishes their social standing. These are the same societal pulls that will create psychological and emotional challenges in adopting to the new world. The social thinking and perspectives will have to evolve to overcome this challenge.

 Organizational Design

The organizational design has to evolve to account for the changes, especially for the human capital. As for the start, organizations may not have the liberty to think the resources as their own, many would be working with multiple organizations simultaneously. There will be challenges around talent management, recruitment and retention of skills. Organizations will have to define work in a much clearer role-based structure, rather than keeping it loosely aligned. They will also have to re-define the structures based on core and context lines. Formation of teams is certain to throw in interesting challenges. Client confidentiality & legal norms are going to have to evolve as well.

 For a company like Persistent, we look at many of our team members as “intrepreneurs,” a combination of someone who is an entrepreneur working within the company. Further to that we have different centers of excellence where we almost have micro-companies working within the larger company to provide offerings and services. We’re seeing that the social concept of job might is being replaced with individuals or groups forming skills based micro-companies and corporate organizations adapting to the way of dealing with these sets instead of individual employees. This is an exciting change!

The Beneficiary

With all this disruption, will there be benefits to the individual and the industry? There better be!

 The biggest benefit might come in terms of unlocking of the talent and its availability to small & medium businesses. Typically, the highly talented, skilled & experienced resources are mopped up by the big corporations and eventually get locked up in the corporate structure. Their skills are available to those inside the organization. These resources might have more time at hand that can be utilized more creatively than their own organizations can use. On the other hand, small & medium businesses struggle to attract the requisite talent due their inability to pay for it. They do not have access to the processes, methodologies, best practices that have already developed and hence struggle. Ultimately, the end users that they serve are deprived of the benefits. The Association Framework would unlock the talent, make it available to the wider industry and hence raise the bar on creative work. The workforce that the industry is banking on would become much more agile and skill oriented.

Needless to say, thoughts, comments welcome!

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