The Dark Side of Future Proof Organizations

It is a paradise! In future proof organizations, people are free to develop their own ideas in full harmony, they are happy…Well hold on a second, future proof organizations are not wonderlands, they are work in process. And like any complex system development, there is a dark side to it. Better face it now and bring the force back 😃

Peer Pressure

Reducing hierarchical layers, empowering people to make decision. To create such an environment or Wearchy, many steps are necessary. Ultimately it replaces a top down pressure from bosses by an horizontal pressure from colleagues or peers. It is more healthy I argue but it can also be challenging. It is a pressure for instance that comes from many people so almost a continuous one. Furthermore, in futur proof organizations, transparency is often a base for the organization culture. While one can strive under what can be seen as constant scrutiny, people might feel observe, juge, and oblige all the time. Think of the “likes” of Facebook and the competition of people to get these from their friends (aka peers). If not genuinely implemented, transparency and openness could lead to the feeling of oppression resulting in higher rates of burn out or inhibition of actions for instance. The latter could also be linked to the focus on intrinsic motivations. With so many choices at hand and the freedom to choice, one could become overwhelmed by these opportunities and the way to capture them. Watch this TedX talk about the paradox of choice:

Career Path

In future proof organisations, often, what is commonly called middle management is drastically reduced and the role of these managers is changed into a more coaching and supporting role. But in large organisations that do not usually transition at once, what happens then to the traditional path of climbing the corporate ladder? ING, the banking and financial services corporation has transformed itself drastically to be organized partly in squads and tribes. Read here for a story of the transformation. One of the main issues ING is facing is to retain middle management and develop an alternative to the traditional career advancement. Keeping senior staff with a lot of knowledge and experience is fundamental even when transitioning to futur proof models.

No Coming Back

Once you start putting future proof principles into play, as a leader, you will start experiencing a deep transformation in your teams. Because it is first of all a conscious awakening. Frederic Laloux mentioned a very interesting point in his book here. He says: “practices are lifeless without the underlying world view”. What he means by it is that as a leader you have to enable and support this change from an intrinsic motivation, not motivated by becoming more agile, more profitable or to survive (these are consequences). If you don’t, when things are not going as well, you will have the tendency to going back to traditional organization practices. Most of the time for your collaborators this will become unbearable because they have experienced what future proof organisations could be and got accustomed to a new world view. A drastic consequence could be the loss of talents in your organisation by having people leaving on their own.
So yes future proof organisations are definitely emerging and will make us all better suited to face the future. But they do come with their own challenges. The dark side of the force is there to remind us that there are still some work ahead. Keep experimenting is then the key to find out solutions to these challenges. And as Master Yoda used to say:
“Do or do not. There is no try.”

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