The Rise of Alternative Organisational Structures

The Rise of Alternative Organisational Structures
by Rhianna Hobbs

The ‘future of work’ is a hot topic, with a proliferation in recent years of books, conferences, events and experts exploring trends and addressing how organisations will need to change in order to be successful in coming years. A recurrent theme across these is the need to shift our thinking around organisational structure. Traditionally, hierarchical structures have provided control and centralised decision-making. The traditional structure has served organisations well in the past, providing a clear and efficient way of organising people, allocating resources, and getting work done. However one of the trade-offs for these efficiencies is often resistance to change - organisations have become slow moving beasts, with many layers of hierarchy blocking innovation from lower levels. We all know that to be successful now and into the future organisations need to be increasingly agile and responsive to change. But in order for that to happen, people who develop new ideas need to be able to execute them. If traditional organisational structures are preventing this from happening, then is it time to change the way we think about structure?

Holacracy

There are now a number of viable alternative management structures emerging in organisations across the world. One of the more well-known models, thanks to some high profile cases such as Zappos (a US based online shoe and clothing shop), is Holacracy. Within the Holacracy structure, power is removed from a management hierarchy and instead distributed across the organisation (in a ‘Holarchy’). The organisation is broken down into roles in order to get the work done, and roles are grouped into circles, which are grouped into broader circles. It’s not that Holacracy lacks structure – in fact it’s quite the opposite. There are clear rules and processes for how the self-organised teams break up their work, and authority is distributed so that decisions are made locally. This all sounds wonderfully empowering and agile, but is it a silver bullet?

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Should I broaden or deepen my experience?

Should I broaden or deepen my experience?
By Paul Clifford

In my role as supervisor of Psychology Masters Placement students at FBG I am often in discussions with students about the path they want to take in their careers.  Some are already ready to specialise in a certain content area.  Others are keen to dabble in a number of areas and keep their options open. Neither is wrong and I have always been a firm believer that with persistence and determination you can change career trajectories at any stage. 

In recent days we have seen two pieces of commentary related to two federal government departments cautioning against 'cradle to grave' tenures within organisations.  In other words, these departments are recognising the need for its people to gain experience in a range of environments and by doing so, add further value to the organisations when they re-enter.  
In order for this to happen, managers need to be highly influential in their discussions with staff because in many cases they will behind the eight ball on two fronts.

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We must change the way we do performance management

We must change the way we do performance management
By Paul Clifford

Whenever I read an article on performance management, the analysis typically concludes that performance management as we typically know it is not working.  “It has to change, and that change has to be dramatic” is effectively the consensus view.  I agree, and the groundswell for change is growing.  Here’s where I think the changes must come.

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How to make conflict more palatable

How to make conflict more palatable
By Paul Clifford

There are those amongst us who don't bat an eyelid at the idea of disagreeing with someone or giving someone feedback the receiver won't like. For these people there is little emotion in these tasks. However, for many others the idea of expressing a divergent view or confronting someone with an unpalatable message is highly stressful. Like the joke about the person who’d choose being in the casket over doing the eulogy, some would rather anything else than face the potential for conflict.

So how does someone with such an emotional response to giving feedback or facing any other potential confrontation go about the task of reducing the emotional impact?  Here are some suggestions.

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Optimising Your Performance

Optimising Your Performance
By Paul Clifford and Carly Newman

Aren’t the habits of human beings interesting? Some things we just do routinely without sufficient questioning. We are habitual creatures and we use habits as a way of creating efficiency and consistency in our lives. We are habitual at work too.

Take jobs for instance - the types that belong in an organisation. We are conditioned to believe that employees occupy jobs and that jobs typically have defined boundaries. We fill those jobs with tasks until they’re full and we give each a name. We organise jobs into families. We have order and structure. That is our routine.

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