HBR Survey: Rewiring Modern Organizations for Adaptability and Continuous Change

Innovation + Transformation Leadership

We are proud to share with you the results of our sponsored HBR Survey. Shannon Adkins, Future State CEO, shares her insight in the sponsor introduction (below) leading up to HBR’s detailed research into what businesses are struggling with today and how they hope to become more adaptive and agile to support their desired future state.

Is your organization positioned to thrive in the twenty-first century? To do so requires a focus on honing the competency of change to create agile and innovative organizations. The research shows that this is easier said than done, as almost two-thirds of those surveyed say they don’t understand the path required to achieve agility and innovation. The speed of change has increased to a point where innovation is outpacing anything that we have experienced in history.

Consider that it took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users, whereas Twitter hit the same mark in nine months. In addition, the level of connectedness required today means traditional, siloed, and command-and-control cultures can’t keep pace and connect the dots fast enough to support ever-changing customer needs. Couple that with an educated global workforce that is technologically enabled and multigenerational, and it is evident businesses are experiencing competitive pressure from places they could never have imagined even a decade ago. Our experience shows that plodding along with a five-year plan or focusing on functional excellence is not the right path. There are simply too many unknowns, and the way work is done continues to become more and more experimental, cross-functional, and networked. So what is the path forward?

Through our work with clients in transformation, like Clif Bar, we know companies today must ensure that a compelling purpose is central to transformation and humans are at the heart of change. We believe thriving twenty-first century companies are “Connected Organizations.” We know Connected Organizations succeed because they do four things really well:

They Matter
All stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and suppliers must be inspired by a brighter future. Only with this commitment can the clarity to understand why change is necessary emerge. The purpose and mission of the organization must inspire all and inform every action.

They Engage
At the heart of every effective transformation is the fact that all employees get a seat at the table, as co-creators of the future state. Throughout the journey, leaders must be genuine, transparent, and accessible to employees. The voice of the customer must be a focus, incorporated into all decisions and experiments, and known by all.

They Integrate
An end-to-end perspective is required to break down functional silos. Tools, technology, systems, data, and decision making are all connected, working together in a way that works in service of the vision. Technology, process, and governance are tools to unlock people’s potential and ensure alignment and effectiveness to drive outcomes. Decision making is pushed down because teams have access to the right information at the right time to enable them to make smart decisions.

They Evolve
Connected Organizations are nimble, agile, and innovative. They iterate, improve, and learn. Through experimentation and smart risk-taking, they always have their eye on the next big thing. These organizations invest in continual learning and development of their workforce to keep them at the leading edge of new skills and knowledge.

Traditional management consulting is premised on the idea that outsiders are best placed to tell organizations what they need. Our approach is to work in a practical, innovative way that brings out the best through co-creation and collaboration with clients. As specialists in organizational transformation, Future State works hand in hand with customers to enable them to succeed in the face of constant change and evolution.