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Uncharted Territory: The Org Chart of the Future in the New World of Work

Navigating Organizational Structure

The org chart isn’t dead. It’s a living, breathing and ever-changing symbol of corporate structure. Its beauty is in its fluidity. So grab a whiteboard, a marker and a very big eraser. It’s time to draw the org chart of the future. Reinvention is the key to relevancy in the New World of Work.

Forget everything you have heard about the end of the org chart. It is not dead. It is simply in a state of flux and reinvention. The organizational structure you have in place today will not serve your company tomorrow. And may not even be functioning well today.

According to a comprehensive report published by Deloitte, “Global Human Capital Trends 2016,” a resounding 92 percent of companies believe that rethinking their organization structure is critical in the New World of Work. The report details the ways companies are decentralizing static leadership roles and forming fluid and highly empowered and functioning teams rather than increasingly limiting functional structures.

It’s easy to point to the Millennials when discussing just about any workplace trend today, and functional organizational structure is no exception. These days, the idea of staying with a company over a course of years, or decades, with the goal of moving up the ladder to secure a senior management position and a corner office is of little to no interest. There is nothing practical about that anymore, for the employee or the organization. It doesn’t support workflow efficiency. It doesn’t inspire creativity. It doesn’t align with rapidly changing technologies. It doesn’t leave room for personal growth.

What was once revered as the path to success is now perceived as the fast track to obsolescence. You want to rise to the top? Do it with your ideas, your innovations, your ability to blend your talents with those around you. Learn new skills and work across many disciplines, yet avoid the “generalist” trap. Remain specialized in your areas of expertise, and you will bring value and leadership to your teams and projects. You will increase your marketability outside the company as well, and find personal satisfaction within your soul.

When people work outside the confines of a fixed, hierarchical structure, they challenge themselves in more limitless ways. This opens the door to change and disruption, innovation and reinvention. This is what drives the New World of Work, even more than the technology that defines it. The big differentiator will always be your talent—and the energy and synergy of your teams.

Redefine Your Organization to Motivate Your Talent

With so many people today working remotely, it is more important than ever to keep your workforce engaged, interested and motivated. In recent months, a few high-profile organizations, including remote-work pioneer IBM, have been taking steps to bring more of their workers “back to the office”—and it’s not because people are less productive at home. It’s because their leaders believe they have lost too much of the shared spirit and collaborative momentum gained when employees work side by side as part of a team. There’s no question that there’s something to be said for the benefit of teamwork. Yet, how can you blend the power of teamwork with the strength of autonomy?

By redefining your organization structure to align with critical end-to-end processing, you can create high-performing blended teams that may work in the next cubicle or across the globe. It won’t matter because they will have the support and the tools necessary to facilitate a highly collaborative work environment in real time, anywhere. The synergy they will create together will not be defined by rigid titles or siloed departments, but by a fluid flow of idea sharing and accountability. The concept of re-creating an organization based on blended teams provides an environment where the focus is on a shared goal that requires individual contribution and team collaboration.

Create Blended Teams to Create Unity

As an example, consider the way so many organizations today recruit and retain talent. Most will still engage multiple siloed groups and follow a rather predictable model: Recruiters find the talent; Human Resources onboard, manage and retain that talent; Legal writes the employment contracts; and Procurement manages the vendors and contingent workers.

In the New World of Work, companies will implement blended structures that align directly with a particular “process,” rather than assign the standard functional roles to traditional departments. This new model would include functional expertise related to HR and Recruiting, but it may also include functional expertise from Marketing, Legal, Learning and Development, and Procurement. How the structure is defined requires new thinking about the end-to-end process and the new technologies that can replace some of the old processing. As companies start to recognize and embrace overlapping responsibilities, merge functions and engage technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) to perform tasks, you will witness the growth and progression of more blended teams.

It is no secret that individual departments as they exist today can no longer function in silos, nor can individual workers. Business leaders today must do more than acknowledge this shifting paradigm; they must make a blending of functions and a new organization design a part of their corporate culture.

An empowered work environment that is composed of blended teams from throughout your organization has the ability to inspire the best talent to achieve, not stagnate. Unless you respect, nurture and motivate your workforce, and provide the most innovative thinking and tools, they will have their eye on the next opportunity. The ability to make a strong contribution in a dynamic work environment is a coveted intangible. Without it, anything you offer will sound like an empty promise of predictable career growth in an unpredictable world.

Allyson Campos Gilbert

Allyson Campos Gilbert, CEO and founder of Adaptation, is a thought leader in business transformation strategy and organizational change. Allyson is a frequent speaker on topics such as disruptive technologies and organizational change, business transformation and global best practices.

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