In this external element of the WITORG Guide, we will reflect on how the current world of uncertainty affects the binomial ‘organizational systems and people’. Our environment presents constraints and various circumstances that provoke a sense of uncertainty in any organization’s development.
An organization needs to live uncertainty with a certain normality. For this, it is necessary to establish a concept or strategy to be developed for the binomial organizational systems and people. In turn, people will want to work in organizations where a certain logic is perceived. And by logic we want to refer to certain criteria focused on seeking sanity in organizational development, because this is necessary to see the uncertain future with some normality, thanks to having criteria and an organizational system to deal with it.
Currently, concepts such as GTD, coaching, mentoring, entrepreneur, personal branding, networking, millennials, postmillennials, holacracy, how to be a super professional, blockchain, start-up, etc., are frequently used within the organizations’ world. These concepts present, among other things, an approach to start and coexist efficiently, within the current uncertainty. They also involve entrepreneurship as a search for development opportunities in the following circumstances:
- Uncertain future.
- Mostly boredom regarding the existing forms of government.
- Lack of opportunities.
- Need for self-realization.
- The thought that better organizations are possible.
As can be seen, external element ‘D. People and environmental circumstances’ contains a large number of concepts that seek to develop people and teams of people. All in a conceptual way. Moving from the concept to its development for a specific person/s in an organization requires first understanding the reasons for the need.
Provisionality of the current historical moment
Starting from the time reference year 2017, we can go back two or three decades and easily realize the change in terms of technological development. New business models (retailing with Amazon, music, banking, fashion with Zara, advertising with Google…) in different economic areas and produced through technological evolution are realities today. However, they present great unknowns about their future evolution.
These new business models have required the evolution of traditional organizational systems in terms of the people’s relationships within organizations. This is mainly due to being organizations with a high level of education in most of its members, in all the interest groups (See internal element 600).
Sectors with a more traditional operation regarding their organizational systems, such as the food industry, automotive, aeronautics, oil and gas, energy, pharmaceutical, capital goods, etc., are in a moment where the concepts of industry 4.0 and robotics + artificial intelligence begin to be realities, although still in an incipient phase.
In the last two or three decades many organizations have suffered relocation processes, to be able to continue competing in a globalized world. This relocation process, the period of crisis experienced between 2007-2017 and the apparently imminent evolution of robotics and artificial intelligence, generate many doubts in people in general about what and where they will have to work in the future.
It is common to hear these types of questions:
- Are there going to be major changes in the next few years in terms of business models in the more traditional industries (more Taylorist too)? And in terms of organizational systems?
- How will the organizational systems evolve in terms of the people’s relationships?
- At what percentage will robots and artificial intelligence substitute jobs that people are doing today?
- What other new types of work will be necessary in the face of the ‘supposed’ massive replacement of tasks carried out by people that will be taken over by robots, machines…?
- The new types of jobs for people, will equal in quantity to those jobs that supposedly will be made by robots?
Regional, national and even supranational governments have hardly evolved their organizational systems. There is an impression that governments are increasingly many steps behind large corporations and society. There are political movements catalogued as ‘populist’ everywhere, promising changes to alleviate the government incompetence perceived in a generalized way by societies.
There is also the circumstance that populist movements, with approaches both left and right, share, in principle at least, a clear confrontation with the incompetence of governments in terms of solving current problems. This clearly indicates the people’s boredom due to the inefficiency of the governments, unable to face and solve problems such as corruption, security, unemployment, immigration, wealth distribution, etc.
In general, religions are losing believers continuously. The so-called ‘millennials’, and even previous generations, have not received any religious education. They have lost references that, just until a few decades ago, were solid referents that influenced values and idiosyncrasies. Although at this moment there are radical religious movements, as technology continues to advance and penetrate the different world regions, these will disappear in the course of time. It is difficult to make predictions regarding the disappearance of religions in decades in a global way, but at western level, a great change has taken place in the last three decades.
In other historical moments, people believed that a change for the better was possible and shared a feeling of positivism and faith in it. 1968 represents, through its events, a year where the seed of a better world was sown. There have also been other times in which there has been a moment of uncertainty like the current one. Moments of uncertainty and positivism have occurred in the last two centuries and brought evolution. There are two novels that narrate two historical moments of change and uncertainty, to a certain extent similar to the current one: Samurai by Hisako Matsubara and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, which are a recommended reading.
Perhaps, in the current historical moment, the great difference is that governments are more lost and have less room for manoeuvre than in previous situations of uncertainty. The current situation of uncertainty will continue to evolve, although we do not know very well where to. As there is no stopping this evolution, and as people must continue paying bills at the end of the month, WITORG asks several questions:
- How do people consider the way they work and survive in the current situation?
- Do people value the companies where they work according to their ability to adapt to change?
- Do organizations have awareness of this new reality of uncertainty when it comes to incorporating people and, through their organizational system, living this historical reality consciously and continuing to survive?
- Does the people’s dissatisfaction with the current forms of government facilitate entrepreneurship as a way of earning a living?
- Is entrepreneurship a way of looking for new, more efficient forms of government?
Reflecting on organizational systems and people is more necessary every day. Organizations need to adapt to a seemingly more uncertain and changing world.
Uncertainty about the speed of change. Organizational systems and people
This section aims to reflect on the employee-worker-collaborator-partner relationship with their organization, or with an organization with which they intend to establish a future professional relationship in these moments of uncertainty. Obviously, there are so many relationships and so many types, that generalizing can be very complex. In this section, we will deal with two main points:
- The relationship from the employee-worker-collaborator-partner’s point of view with an organization.
- The relationship from the organization’s point of view with its employees-workers-collaborators-partners.
The concept ‘employee-worker-collaborator-partner’ is presented with the aim of showing different forms of relationships with an organization; Surely the reader could contribute with some more. It is clear that a person is related to the organization and to the other members of the organization through an organizational system. And it is this system that allows, to a certain extent at least, that a person analyses how the organization is or another one with which they can establish a future relationship. And also, an organization can design an organizational system with the aim of making people live the organization with which they relate in a more or less determined way. That is the meaning of organizational systems and people.
The relationship from the employee-worker-collaborator-partner’s point of view with an organization
Each person within an organization perceives it in a certain way. You can be in an organization in very different ways, being part of one of the interest groups that comprise it. And it may happen that from different interest groups the organization can be perceived in a different way. The organizational system is key in the perception of each interest group and each individual of the organization.
In these times, with high unemployment rates in different regions of the world, many people cannot choose where they want to work. People, like organizations, must live or survive, and for this a way of making a living is usually necessary. Let’s focus on Maslow’s pyramid first two categories:
- 1. Physiology: breathing, feeding, rest, sex, homeostasis.
- 2. Physical security, employment, resources, moral, family, health, private property.
Today, at least in the West, the most prepared generation in history has to emigrate to secure the first two levels of Maslow’s pyramid. In Europe, in countries such as Spain, Italy, Romania, Poland, Portugal, etc. prepared young people emigrate because of the few local opportunities. In the USA the young university students have difficulties to return the loans requested for the payment of their studies. The working conditions of the best-prepared youth have become increasingly evident in the last decade. In the rest of the workers, more of the same.
How will a person value his organization or another when precarization is widespread? Do they understand the real reasons for this precariousness? As each organization is a world, it is complex to generalize, however, we will present a list of issues to reflect on a person’s opinion about their organization:
- I. Is precarization due only to costs when having to compete in a more global world or with a greater competition?
- II. Do the organization’s benefits grow while the conditions of workers are still precarious?
- III. Is the organization transparent in terms of information to workers on issues such as economic results, future plans, etc.?
- IV. What types of values do people find within organizations at the time of developing their work in relation to other workers?
- V. The concept of ‘business ethics’ is very topical today, why is it? In the 2007-2017 decade there have been many unethical practices in the business world, what are the reasons? What values can we find behind the global financial bubble of 2007?
- VI. Do the issues raised affect all organizations equally?
- VII. Do organizations propose forms of government where people can perceive a certain balance or well-being despite the complex world, and in apparent precarization, in which it seems to live?
- VIII. Any other the reader wants to add.
People, when considering their professional future, usually have illusions and intentions. In principle, being able to develop a professional career in a satisfactory way may involve progressing from the third level of Maslow’s pyramid. Once inside an organization, each person will begin to perceive what kind of relationship he has with it. Once the first two Maslow levels are satisfied, what does a person look for in his relationship with an organization?
WITORG recommends reviewing the internal elements of the guide 100, 200 and 600 to be able to think about the organization where a person participates or intends to be. After classifying the information of an organization through the concepts that explain the three elements mentioned, it will be easier to analyse if a person is interested in remaining in an organization or looking for other alternatives.
In many cases, leaving an organization is not easy as there are conditioning factors of all kinds. Nor does changing the organization guarantee a more satisfactory route through Maslow’s pyramid, although at first it is thought so. In any case, being aware of where one is in relation to the organization can help improve or propose a change to another organization.
Living an organization in a conscious way will help to relativize the relationship with it from the following parameters:
- Understanding which parts of the organization are complex to make evolve from a person’s specific position within the organization and focus on participating in the most efficient way possible within the organizational system, despite the constraints.
- Being aware of the constraints of the organizational system, and from there, present possible improvements to collaborate in its evolution, as long as, and from the position of each person, or interest group, that is possible.
- If you do not like the organization, start looking for a change knowing what you do not want to find in a next organization.
The relationship from an organization’s point of view with its employees-workers-collaborators-partners
An organization located in the context of precariousness of the temporary reference year 2017, can analyse itself with respect to its form of government, organizational system, real values or other elements and in relation to what the organization provides its employees-workers- collaborators-partners, so that they are more or less satisfied when it comes to climbing through Maslow’s pyramid.
An organization can be composed of more than one interest group, and it will surely be complex for all of them to perceive the organization in the same way regarding what it provides them to their personal satisfaction through Maslow’s pyramid.
In addition, an organization in the current historical moment of uncertainty may not be clear about what kind of relationship it wants to maintain with each interest group within it.
When an organization reflects on the issues presented I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII and VIII for itself, does it have answers for its own reality? In a time of uncertainty, being clear about how to face the future can be complex, however, being aware of the reality in which it lives, will help to raise forms of government, organizational systems and other elements to face or know how to coexist with that uncertainty. Do not forget that the uncertainty itself can become an opportunity for improvement.
WITORG, to analyse the situation of an organization regarding the issues raised I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII and VIII, recommends consulting internal elements 100, 200 and 300 of the guide. Through them, an organization can reflect on its own situation and, from the consciousness, raise forms of government, organizational systems, etc., to continue surviving and even climbing through Maslow’s pyramid. In this way, it is possible to reach the people of an organization, and all or part of the interest groups, tools to coexist with the moment of current uncertainty in a conscious and constructive way.
New times, new rules and new jargon in the binomial organizational systems and people
Nowadays, if a person is present on LinkedIn and regularly reads blogs, press, etc. related to performance, he meets many terms that represent broad concepts. Some of them are: GTD, coaching, mentoring, entrepreneur, personal brand, networking, millennials, holacracy, how to be a super professional, start-up, blockchain etc. These concepts, and many others, from the reflection carried out in WITORG, converge in three main points:
- To self-employ, to undertake, to look for the life through the personal initiative in the present moment of uncertainty, lack of opportunities and technological evolution. Undertaking by seeking new, more advanced forms of government.
- The big traditional organizations and their decadence in terms of organizational systems.
- Evolution from individualism to collectivity. Is it happening?
The millennials, without deepening into their exact temporal definition, have lived through a period between 1990 and 2007 where a series of events that condition their future happened, but also that of the before millennials and the post-millennials:
- It is one of the ‘best’ times of global economic growth in the last century.
- A time when economic growth seemed to be exponential.
- Families had resources and millennials grew up in a seemingly ‘comfortable world.
- They are people to whom the Western Christian religious values influence them much less than the previous generations and in which the Christian religion begins to lose its power in a very important way.
- The technological world begins to take off as a new economic sector and through it, different industries and sectors begin to transform into new business models.
- Millennials have received a more technological education and, in general, more comprehensive and complete than previous generations.
- The new gods are the people who manage to create great economic empires, some technological and other speculative.
Although the importance of individual success with regard to collective success is clear between 1990 and 2007, new forms of communication, sharing and being able to organize are beginning to be used in a general way. These new forms are going to make the relationships in organizations change and the future will say if the individual goes into the background with respect to the collective, unlike the years 1990-2007.
And suddenly, in 2007, the global economic bubble explodes, and the millennials and non-millennials are facing a great economic crisis, with a significant deterioration of the families’ economies, labour conditions and a lack of job opportunities at least in the traditional companies. Since 2007, in a large part of the sectors, there has been a period of cuts in order to accommodate the organizations to the new economic scenario from the 2007-2017 decade to the present.
Faced with this situation, the millennials mainly, and not only them, have no other option but to get by. For them, thanks to their academic preparation to understand the technological world, entrepreneurship is a way of self-employment in the face of the few opportunities left by the crisis in organizations that are not so technological. The world is technological. Sectors that use new technologies can be launched to new business models and environments with possibilities to develop new opportunities. It is at this point that millennials can start and become entrepreneurs. The concept ‘entrepreneur’, although it is used in a snobbish way, can be differentiated from a traditional entrepreneur in the following characteristics:
- Training received in full development of the new technological sectors.
- Generation with a higher level of education in general than in previous decades.
- Use of technology as a form of bidirectional communication, social networks, etc.
- They observe the religious world, traditional politics, public administrations and the more traditional economic sectors as if they were not of their time. These sectors, very hierarchical and with a unidirectional communication, represent the not evolved past.
- They understand relationships between people in a way that is somewhat different. It is natural to share information in a public way, the bidirectionality in communication, the power to be connected to more entities and to be able to interact with each other for various topics.
The big traditional organizations and their decline in terms of organizational systems
Given the environment where millennials have grown, the traditional organizations in the economic world, the public administrations and traditional political parties function differently from how they relate to their environment. The organizational systems that support them are:
- Unidirectional communication systems.
- Organizational concepts markedly Taylorist.
- Not very transparent organizational systems.
- Lack of opportunities to enter and promote for newcomers.
The large traditional organizations, although more or less aware that incorporating people with another organizational concept requires changes, these occur slowly and often to the gallery, not really understanding the new possibilities of the technological world and new customs that the millennials bring naturally.
Traditional organizations, if they do not evolve, will disappear, being replaced by others that incorporate the DNA of the new technological world, as it has already occurred in several sectors.
Evolution from individualism to the collectivity. Is it happening?
Technological evolution is making possible the interconnection between people in an evolved way compared to the years before the time reference of the year 2000. Although in some topics the face-to-face relationship is important, today there are more options to communicate, and many sometimes substitute others that were common before. However, the pursued individual success is a social value of reference in the period 1990-2017, which displaced collective values that occurred in the decade of the 60s.
The complexity of the current world makes interconnectivity between people and other entities necessary. Being able to be competent as an individual requires being surrounded by people or entities with whom to collaborate in order to continue living or surviving in this complexity. This need for connection requires, to a certain extent, a change of values where the individual is the centre, to values oriented to create networks or groups with which to support or collaborate to develop in an increasingly complex world. This need for new values must provoke evolutions of the organizational systems.
These collaborative or social connection tools are most commonly used in millennials. As these start joining the organizations and acquiring leading roles in their hierarchies, they will have the possibility of evolving the existing organizational models to others where the habit of interconnection is more present, at least apparently.
Hence the reflection from WITORG, of whether this evolution of values where the individual is more important is being perceived, to other values focused on the development of the interconnected collectives. In some areas, there are examples that this phenomenon is taking place, in others not so much. The reader is invited to reflect on this topic and obtain his own conclusions according to his environment, or what he may perceive in others.
Individualism, new concepts and organizational systems
Concepts such as GTD, coaching, mentoring, entrepreneur, personal branding, how to be a super professional, leadership, ‘how to be a good leader’, are aimed mainly at individuals. In some way, they aim to help empower the individual so he can manage more efficiently/effectively in the organizations where he develops his profession. We will raise two cases where these concepts apply.
I. Once a person, on his own initiative, starts working with the concepts mentioned in the previous paragraph, three situations can occur:
- The person in question finds a more efficient/effective way of operating within that same organizational environment.
- The person can come to the conclusion that the limitations are not in him, but that the organization’s organizational characteristics are the ones that limit.
- Starting, or without starting from the previous point, after working the aforementioned concepts, a person comes to the conclusion about the need to start a new path.
II. A person in an organization is assigned a coach, is given GTD training, leadership courses, etc. In this case, the organization understands that this person needs to evolve with respect to his current status. It can be due to the person’s poor performance or because of the organization’s awareness of the need to initiate a change from the current situation.
Sometimes, organizations believe that they need changes and turn to concepts such as coaching, leadership, mentoring, etc. with the aim of evolving. They often do not realize that to apply leadership, coaching, mentoring, etc. there are minimum conditions needed. Without them, these projects often fail or have a very small positive impact.
A more in-depth analysis is needed. For this, we recommend reading internal elements 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and, especially, 600.
Reflecting on points I and II, WITORG presents the following notes:
- Concepts such as coaching, mentoring, GTD and leadership are applied to individuals, so they then operate in an organization. These concepts, without any other organizational characteristics at collective level, may not achieve the desired effects.
- The previous point can be explained as follows: organizations are more or less fertile lands, where the individuals’ seeds can germinate and grow. If the soil is not fertile, no seed can germinate. A person can be prepared and motivated, and yet not succeed in making an organization evolve.
- How have concepts such as coaching, mentoring, GTD, leadership, etc. evolved in technological environments where working in a network and in an interconnected way is necessary?
- How does the search for individual success coexist with the need for collaboration in increasingly complex and interconnected environments?
- How do organizations prepare themselves so that their people learn to live in more uncertain environments in a globalized world, with their threats and opportunities?
- How do organizations prepare so people learn to live in environments where the speed of change has increased?
- To what extent are organizations aware of the need for continuous evolution of their organizational systems?