Our models of change management are all dead and redundant. In the age of Futureshock, flux is the new landscape (or seascape?) in which the ad-hocracy and gig economy are being built.
We have said that we have moved to a point where we welcome disruption. We want ideas that no longer slot neatly together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, but crash into each other releasing energy and forcing changes of direction. The truth is that disruption doesn’t happen in silos. Genuine disruption happens when an explosion in the lab contaminates and changes erstwhile stable compounds. What happens next? Well, traditionally, a new normal is established. Kurt Lewin’s (now discredited) concept of melting something solid, moulding it and then re-freezing it reflected this thinking. There is always a normal, it just changes occasionally when an event forces that change.
What we are seeing now is disruption on a scale and at a pace where this never actually happens. One disruptive event occurs alongside another and the world we find ourselves living in exists in a permanent state of dynamism. This is why it doesn’t make sense anymore to focus on building ‘the’ workforce that we need, or on designing ‘the’ structure that will meet the needs of the business. Our current approach to thinking about organisational change and aligning our business with the changing context is fundamentally unfit for purpose. We need a new approach, a new way of thinking, which places flexibility at the centre of our working lives. This idea will change everything and even the term ‘organisation’ will cease to make sense as the corporate body becomes fundamentally disorganised.
With innovation prioritised, we will also see a shift away from the concepts of being a ‘generalist’ or a ‘specialist’; we will all become ‘versatilitists’ and be valued based on how well we can move between and across different challenges, collaborations and opportunities. We still hear HR practitioners who will unashamedly say that they “don’t do Excel”. The new skillsets we look to will be the ability to learn, and learn quickly, regardless of previous experience or preference. The tech tools at our disposal – and the vast knowledge base we have created online – will revolutionise what it is that we bring to the world of work.
The future is imploding into the present and organisation is being replaced with movement.