The start of a new era: Futurproofing your organisation.

We are at the start of a new era. See this video and discussion for the triggers for this blog entry.

Already we see changes in how business are run, and what they do to make money. Business that could never have existed 20 years ago are becoming mainstream. (Think of Amazon, Google, Booking.com) Other businesses that thrived, saw a secure 100 year future ahead of them, (like the US big steel industry) are no more.

Whether you are the biggest kid on the block, say a Procter and Gamble, or an independent professional, you will only thrive in 2020 if you act now to futureproof your organisation. And especially futureproof what you as a leader are doing.

One thing you have to do, and can do now, is think through what the following two critical drivers behind this shift mean for your people, your organisation and your business model.

Historically the major era tipping points have come when a new way of communicating and a new way of harnessing energy have coincided. We have just that now.

Driver 1: Communication The internet in general, and especially the web, is changing completely how we communicate. And hence what type of organisations (or communities of people) can exist. This one, a global virtual forum is a good example. I began doing this only 15 years ago. Using a vastly simpler tool called usenet. Very few thought it would evolve to what we see already. Imagine how much more is still to come.

Driver 2: Energy. The rapid shift to renewable energy is accelerating. In countries like Germany, it is now standard to see houses with solar thermal and photovoltaic panels on the roofs. Windturbines in the fields. Distributed and democratic electricity generation and consumption. Power generated and used in local communities. China is the other leading player in renewable energy, both local installation of capacity, and investment in R&D, manufacturing etc.

Both of these technologies enable the next era; one where we can have autonomy on all scales, from individual through community, national to global. One where large organisations, centralised business models around energy and communication, are no more. Or on the way out. Where is AT&T today vs. 30 years ago?

You will need to change, which means you will need to retrain people. And retrain people faster than ever before, with less money than before. So getting the most business benefit from less training time has already become a competitive edge for a number of large organisations. The best tool that we’ve seen to maximise on the job adoption of the new ways of working you train for is Transferlogix, developed by Ed Holton. We’ll be covering more what you can do with this in other blogs here, and on his blog site.

This is changing now how you can make money, and how you should lead your organisation. For example, here in tetraLD we only have virtual infrastructure. No central building where everyone gathers each day. So this enables us to have local people spread from the UK through to India. And a very different set of overheads.
It also means we are using a distributed leadership model called Holacracy. All together I take 80% less time leading now than I did inside P&G in my former life. Attend one of the free Holacracy Webinars to learn more about how you can use this in your organisation. (The next is on January 11, 2011. More info on the Holacracy website, http://www.holacracy.org/)
And you can get a lot more insight from many different sources:

and, of course, by talking to us.  Futurproofing organisations through developing leadership capability right for the changed world we are entering is our focus in tetraLD.

One thought on “The start of a new era: Futurproofing your organisation.

  1. I believe that innovation and ability to rapidly adapt to change is also important here. Many of our current world structures are outmoded, built on predict and control; especially control. This has enabled relative stability of power structures but has also facilitated the widening gap between haves and have nots, which in itself has fed social instability. 
    Now however, as the open and random structure of the Internet is made ever more powerful with the advent of social networking and the development of powerful pocket sized browsing devices, the world is moving rapidly towards transparency. Anyone can express their opinion, pass on what they know easily. Information no longer yields power, and change has been speeded up as concepts and ideas are rapidly transmitted across the world and people connect with others who share their beliefs and views.
    If they are to survive and thrive in this environment, organisations have to adapt and learn rapidly. They have to be able to dynamically  steer their way through a constantly changing landscape. We now live on the edge of chaos, and on the edge of chaos innovation and rapid effective learning are king and Queen.

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