This text was written for an event january 2019 in Skema, Lille.
Design, engagement, core values are flourishing concepts in both leadership and management. In many organizations those concepts are a must have. But it is not that easy to implement in real day to day organizational life. Many company managers and leaders have good intentions and know the theory by heart but, caught up in the daily tasks, don’t know how to practice those complex concepts.
The processes for each one to find its place in the transformation of companies
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Taking some examples will make things simpler to explain such concepts. A few years ago, an organization was in conflict with one of its closest partners. Everyone was either condemning the other for all the issues or analyzing the situation, searching for the social issues. Nobody realized the problem was not coming from any of the participants but rather in the structure which was not coherent in itself. Or more to the point, from a discrepancy between the values of the group and its organizational structure. Although most of the participants promoted very cutting-edge ideas like open collaboration and participative decision making, they were still operating as a hierarchical, traditional organization, under traditional rules.
As many other organizations, the structure was never designed in itself. It just happened like that. The structure was that of an organisation as any standard organisation would be in their field, because in the beginning it was easier. And after that, it was structured through the opportunities arising, operating according to what the environment asked of it (in order to be able to have funding and interact with other formal structures like administrations, banks…). It was changing with the new comers and those departing and adapting accordingly.
Unlike the organization in this example, some groups are able to take charge of their own future and decide to be coherent with their own values by designing their own structure. Designing projects or organizations means thinking of what we want as a group for its future, what we want the group to become. It is making sure the future of the organization is in our own hands. In this approach, members of the organization are engaged in the transformation so that it can be fulfilling and inclusive. However, engagement is a tricky concept too. Companies want to involve their employees in transformation, they want them to take initiatives and be at the center of innovation. Who wouldn’t want to nourish everyone’s potential and help them contribute to the collective growth? But the concept of employee engagement implies a movement coming from the employee rather than the company. Engaging someone can not be done by any kind of motivational technique. It rather relates to the core values of the individual. Values are ‘how we, as human beings, internalize our perceptions of all that is worth protecting and developing in our life.’
Therefore, the practice of transformation, that every company is now engaging in, cannot come only from the top, that is, if they want it to be on the long term. Organizational change can only be efficient when strategically aligned, not only with its environment but also with its members. I’m talking about that graceful state of an organization when collective and individual stakes are aligned. The key to a fluid transformation is that everyone becomes a change maker. That’s what Pierre Lannoy, ADEO’s entreprise architect will argue during the conference. For individuals to become actors, engagement is fundamental. We are talking of what makes human want to wake up in the morning, it cannot come from the outside, because it’s about what they believe is worth it. That’s why, value systems are a great starting point to engage a team in this transformation process. Davor Jardas, enterprise architect, working now for the European Commission, will talk about the group processes and conversations focused on values that lead to uncovering of deeper reality, leading to better outcomes and solutions to challenges at stake. Moreover, those common values are to be a guide in the structuration process of transformation. In fact, if the values of the structure are not aligned with the values of the team, everyday life in the organization is bound to be difficult and ultimately dragging the organization down. On the contrary, the group values can actually serve as a guide to construct a new and adapted structure, totally fitting the core convictions of the team, enabling every potential to thrive. That will be the approach I will presentduring the conference.
However, all of these concepts are rather easy to theorize and not so easy to implement. It’s why we’d like to share your experiences with us and discuss those practices of transformation, architecture and codesign together. I am not alone in this line of thinking. Two other practitioners think alike, two enterprise architects from different countries and companies, and gave me materials to write this text. We invite you to discuss this topic on Saturday 26 of January in Skema, Lille. We think the future of organizations has to be in sync with its members to be efficient, and not only in discourse. The question is : Do you?