I’ve just returned from a really inspiring two-day workshop in Milan discussing what is currently being called ‘Organisation 4.0’ – what do organisations need to consider and develop to stay competitive and responsive – not only today’s market but also in the future?

We found that there are a number of terms that can be used to describe the type of organisation we were talking about – ‘Agile’, ‘Flexible’ or ‘Liquid’ hence why ‘Organisation 4.0’ is being used as our working title.  I don’t expect this label to survive, but it gives a sense of what we are aiming at.

The others involved in the workshop came from the seven companies who make up Space Consulting – a network of consultancies from across Europe who are primarily business psychologists, working with clients to make them more effective at an organisational, team and individual level.

In the room we had eight different nationalities and between us we spoke seven different languages – so we defaulted to English.  I loved the melodic accents and the beautiful way some words are pronounced.  As a student of Spanish, hearing my colleague from Madrid speak was a useful personal lesson in gramma!

As the meeting went on, we found how similar our experiences were and where the cultures / markets differed.  This is one of the benefits of working at OE Cam – the opportunity to participate in pan-European research and experience multi-cultural perspectives first-hand.

The workshop started by reviewing the latest research in Organisational Development, trying to answer the following questions: “Is there a ‘best in class’ model (or models) that will help organisations know exactly what they need to do to be ‘fit for the future’?”  We began with looking at the variety of ways academics and practitioners talk about the subject, and then explored organisations such as Spotify, Supercell, Whirlpool and ING in more detail.  Unsurprisingly we came to the conclusion there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’…

So, the next question was “can we find some common elements?” across these case examples and from our own experience working with clients.

 

as a business psychologist, Mobility Mindset is the component that I am most excited about… what is the psychological impact of working in Organisation 4.0?

 

I know it’s still early days for our research, but I’m excited that we narrowed the list down to focus on seven elements that are common to Organisation 4.0: (remember it is a magic number):

  1. Organisational model – what is the structure, operational model and way of organising people so that they can respond quickly and effectively to the changing market / customer needs?
  2. Business processes – does the way things get done in the company positively or negatively impact how the organisation, team or individuals is able to respond?
  3. People strategy and policies – does the organisation recruit, develop, reward and recognise people for working in an agile/flexible/liquid organisation? (5 days after the end of the workshop and I still haven’t decided which adjective to use).
  4. Locus of decision making – where are decision made? Are they in the hands of the team working on the projects that respond to the market / customer or are the decisions made by their managers?
  5. Innovation governance – another title that caused a lot of rich debate… This is not about the governance of the business, but it is about how the commissioning, reviewing and approval of projects that deliver the products / services needed, is conducted
  6. Leadership and management style – what are the new skills / styles needed by managers & leaders in agile, liquid, flexible organisations?
  7. Mobility mindset – as a business psychologist this is the component that I am most excited about finding the answers to… what is the psychological impact of working in Organisation 4.0? What personal characteristics are most useful and how can an organisation support and equip its people to work in the environment?

 

what are the new skills / styles needed by managers & leaders in agile, liquid, flexible organisations?

 

We discussed culture at length, but as it underpins everything and our seven components all contribute to it, we decided not to make culture a specific component in its own right.

We left Milan enthused with individual actions to progress our understanding of what is needed in an agile, liquid, flexible organisation.  I’m looking forward to our next meeting when we will bring our work together to shape it into practical advice that will help our clients get fit for the future (and no doubt have more interesting debates on language and meaning along the way).

For more information about OE Cam’s research, please contact Julie Brophy at julie.brophy@oecam.com