New Year Special: Culture Milieu: 2016


How the organisational culture could change in 2016 and impact people and companies.

The early 20th century predominantly focussed on the manufacturing or the production priorities of the firm. The firm was treated as a mechanical outfit created to maximise products with labour as an important factor in the process. Thereafter, the sciences espoused manufacturing excellence with speed, automation of the human systems, socio-technical variables for efficiencies, scientific management, mass production, assembly line advantages, single product dominance and worker productivity.

The 21st century, however, presupposes an organisational systemic preparedness for gaining and retaining competitiveness in a global and native business scenario. Knowledge organisations bring in challenges significantly different from what has been so far experienced.

Knowledge assets, combined with global meltdown will compound the returns on physical infrastructure and make large and expansive capital investments easy to manage and deliver. Geopolitical challenges will continue to dominate corporate stability issues and global mobility. The environment necessitates global networks, connected business portfolios, and functional linkages across geographies. Grouping and sharing of resources in a seamless organisational space bereft of boundaries is important. It is an opportunity to invent anywhere and share in all necessary places as deemed appropriate.

Virtual working time will make presence at the workplace unnecessary for productive output. Flexibility in working and meeting customer satisfaction requirements out of the workplace will become inevitable.

Nature of employment will change. Employees will continue to determine what they wish and choose to do so. Resourcing and distribution networks will expand to ensure reach as well as effective global and competence penetration by identifying the consumer as the target for satisfaction.

Body shopping IT companies, and those that violate regulatory processes to deploy resources globally will start declining. Global markets will become more protective of jobs and find legislative means to control illegal immigration. While this variable workforce will represent potential cost-savings and easier skill access, they can just as easily walk out the door, taking valuable client insights, capabilities, learning and knowledge with them. HR needs to analyse the roles that need to be on staff and those that can be outsourced.

Physical assets for creating a work environment are already reducing and will no longer be a determining basic motivational factor. Thus, corporate investment will focus away from the static unproductive office space creation to a productive investment in knowledge.

Knowledge brought in and grown by the corporates determines organisational competitiveness and successes, which are seen as fundamental for business survival. The premium for managerial actions is in its ability to attract, hold, and maximise the intellectual equity available within the corporate.

Capital resources and asset management turn negligible management parameters for creation of shareholder wealth. While investing resources continues to be an essential ingredient for corporate competitiveness and retaining innovative advantages, culturally speaking, money by itself would mean precious little to make or break a deal or grow enterprises.

When it comes to external influence, there is a critical focus on value imperative and making marginal improvements to people processes appears inconsequential. The customer does not pay for corporate inefficiencies and poor management. The opportunity to transfer organisational handicaps, in the short and medium term, to the customer will stop. In some situations—where environmental protection was available— the practice of sharing with the customer indefinitely, the inefficiencies that continued in the past would cease to exist.

The customer truly has limitless options to determine alternatives, evaluate concurrent advantages, and make choices on a time frame that is open, transparent and easy to administer. In other words, employees are under no compulsion to buy what is available at the first distribution location or be governed by ad factors that profile the corporate spin and careers more attractively than what they deliver. Corporate spin doctors will run out of jobs.

Alternate options to do business have not emerged because while have corporates turned efficient overnight in the consumer environment, the environment in which the consumer shopped has turned turtle. Disintermediation made this difference. Careers that were far and wide in reach and affordability (global careers) are now available at the current geographic environment for added value and at an affordable price.

Growth economies are getting a large chunk of capital investments directed at creating manufacturing, product design and innovation capabilities. Migration of capital is unbounded. No longer are growth economies dependent on internal generation of capital. Supply chain resourcing efficiencies are dealt with as a single largest independent variable for ensuring customer satisfaction.

More than 50 per cent of the revenue of new-age corporates comes from product-service satisfiers introduced in the current year. Product – service life cycles have undergone a new meaning in an era where the only recipe for success is innovation and this innovation implies obsolescence of the earlier products or services. This is symbolic of people competencies running out of relevance very quickly.

Ganesh Shermon

Learning and growth curves for most economies have shrunk to less than 10 per cent of the past experiences. In many sectors, Asian countries have replicated in five years the capacities the Americas and Europeans took five decades to master. The systems were available through a process of aggregating the experiences of users and technicians for corporate use and effectiveness. Nevertheless, value and service imperative become fundamental, unarguably.

Industrial life cycles are shortening to less than a decade. Entire industries are spawning and dying within a decade’s life span. Interestingly, the cultural cycle of maximisation, optimisation and minimisation is inevitable in human capital management too.

Automation has seen growth rates multiplying while employment rates are fractionalised. Technology should substitute infrastructure in any form. In the organisation form of the firm, structures will turn wide in terms of breadth and spread out across people roles, competencies, products, geographies and functional boundaries. Forms could mean multiple business units connected by the value-adding staff and a virtually connected core corporate group.

Functions and businesses need to integrate for effecting customer service. Yet, functions and specialists compromise, for depth of the intellect is counterproductive. Pyramids should no longer be repeated for each of the product segments with the SBU as a method. The alternate forms of MBU (Multiple Business Units) with a focus on brand – market and product – manufacturing will turn out to be more effective for a change-driven organisation.

To support the future of work, HR needs to build its own bench strength in the area of data interpretation. We’ve seen some progress made in terms of data collection, yet without the ability to predict and forecast based on the data, it’s not actionable. Mobile has accentuated this gap. This literally puts corporate applications in the hands of the employees. However, if the user or candidate experience isn’t positive, the outcomes aren’t positive either.

The emergence of the disruptive era is for sure. In this economy, corporate performance is measured by the return on the knowledge invested. In fact, knowledge is a personal wealth when it is achieved, and a corporate asset when it is shared and institutionalised.

(The author is managing partner, Platform Solutions, TCS Canada Inc.)

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