Get ready for the 'Lego' organization

In a rapidly changing world, businesses will become amalgams of building blocks that come together for specific purposes.

by Ian Wylie
Last Updated: 22 Jul 2016

Unsettled by the uncertainty of recent weeks and the speed with which our leaders now seem to come and go? Our businesses had better get used to it, says Brian Kropp, HR practice leader at best practice insight and technology CEB. He predicts that our organisations of the future will look ‘more like Lego than sculptures’.

Post-Brexit, UK voters have watched amazed as their government has changed and opposition parties undergo rapid review and realignment in the space of just three weeks.

‘On a positive note, disruption creates opportunity and without disruption we would never have had Google or Uber, or other innovations that have changed the way we live and work,’ says Kropp, who works with HR directors to develop strategic plans to attract, manage and retain their top talent. 

‘But we also find ourselves living and working in a much more uncertain world where organisations no longer have the time or ability to see change, determine what to do about that change, then spend years working through that change,’ he says.

‘Change is becoming a leadership capability and our future leaders will need to be able to assemble, disassemble and reassemble what companies look like much faster than has happened before.’

According to Kropp, the lines where one company starts and stop will become more blurred, meaning organisations and their leaders must become more adept at collaborating and forging short-to-medium term partnerships.

‘In the past, companies were organised for the purpose of efficiency in a stable and predictable world. But in the future, companies will become amalgams of many building blocks that come together for specific purposes, then come apart again. They will look a lot more like Lego than the sculptures they have been in the past.’

The growing ‘Uber-isation’ of markets is just one indication of a resulting shift in the relationship between workers and the organisations for whom they sell their labour. And it’s not just happening to taxi drivers: Boston start-up HourlyNerd has attracted 22,000 independent consultants with MBA degrees from 45 top universities, all willing to do projects for clients that range from corner shops to conglomerates like General Electric.

‘This is a trend that is now challenging the large professional services and law firms,’ says Kropp, ‘and a sign that across the economy we are likely to see many more people working in smaller teams, rather than being contracted in long term relationships with a single employer.’ 

Picture credit: Kenny Louie/Wikipedia


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