Time to rethink organisational design

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Organisations must undergo radical structural change if they are to survive today's fast-moving, customer-led, disruption-rich market.

Changes to organisational processes will be one of the key changes that will have to be made, according to a new Forrester Research report, "The Future of Organizations - Rethinking Organizational Design".

The report notes that most organisations are slow and rigid, designed around the principles of stability, accountability and control. These "protect entrenched politics and create hard-walled, politically laden silos, long decision cycles and disjointed customer experiences".

The result is a powerful inertia within organisations and stagnation in customer experience (CX) performance. Forrester's 2018 Customer Experience Index, which gauges customer perceptions of CX quality, showed that CX teams are failing to make headway in promoting the organisational changes needed to drive deep, rather than cosmetic change in organisational structure and operations.

In addition, despite all the talk about digital transformation, not much is happening on that front, either. Although more than half of businesses claim to be doing something about it, most of their efforts have been confined to what Forrester terms "bolt-on efforts", designed to optimise individual channels or functions.

What's needed is a total restructure of organisational design that will enable the organisation to compete and thrive in a market that's "talent-scarce, customer-led, digital-first, robot-enabled, ecosystem-oriented and privacy-sensitive".

Robotic process automation

Forrester identifies several disparate events or conditions that it believes will herald the emergence of the "new" organisation.

Near the top of this list is the way in which organisational processes will change, led by increasingly intelligent robotic process automation (RPA). The move from the way in which RPA is currently implemented to a more intelligent form, will not only allow for the automation of dynamic, complex processes but will also represent a major advance towards the creation of new operating modes.

Next, what Forrester terms "robotics quotient (RQ)" - an advance on today's EQ focus - will have to emerge. This means that businesses will have to identify (and value) skills that will enable humans to work comfortably alongside robots.

"People, leaders and organisations high in RQ will possess the ability to engage in sophisticated information processing and task completion by understanding, adapting to, collaborating with, and exchanging data and insights with intelligent machines," the research company explains.

More changes

Other factors likely to be evident within "new" organisations include a rise in expertise-as-a-service and an explosion in micro-learning, as employees' demands for continuing education and certification programmes grow.

As part of this move, there will also be an increase in "gig" hiring, that is, hiring people with specific skills via specialist employment networks to fulfil specific tasks. Once the task is complete, the freelancer will move on. Companies that are dependent on large numbers of people could find themselves having to set up their own hiring networks.

Forrester also predicts a change in C-level roles, particularly that of the CIO and CMO; and shareholders losing power as companies choose to remain (or revert to being) private in order to be able to take on ever-faster change. Boards are also likely to undergo a shakeup in order to deal effectively with the risks associated with constant change and restructuring.

"Progressive leaders will capitalise on these changes to meet their strategic goals... placing one more competitive wedge between those responding to a disruptive market and those seeking to preserve what made them successful in prior markets," the report concludes.

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