Company cultures are described by innovation experts and analysts as evolving towards professional and social communities where individuals need to understand what their role and value are to maximise their impact while optimizing their personal development. As a result, innovation in future company cultures will be led by communities able to develop the human values and visions they need to create the best possible solution within commonly understood context and priorities.
Bring Your Own Personality
The future of company cultures is going beyond known frontiers, creating common business languages and clusters across regions.
“What is unique about the Nordics is how their leaders have created a very close cluster despite comprising several countries. Shared cultural history and affinity, as well as similarities in language and low levels of border control, are very clear factors in making the region feel like a neighborhood.” Paul Grossinger, INC
In the midst of these new communities, individuals will have to know who they are so they can drive their personal value.
“You got where you are because of who you are. Never forget that, and let whatever makes you you shine through.” Minda Zetlin, INC
Individuals will also need to decipher professional cultures. Reading between the lines may become a prerequisite (as well as sense of humor).
The only way to help individuals learn from other cultures is to let differences be. In other words, let individuals be personal rather than complying to global rules. This is seen as the most efficient way to develop them on the long term.
“The study recommends that you create partnerships with people, not treat them like “resources.” And employers should measure how work is helping their people in the areas of relationships, personal impact, and growth, not status, advancement, and income”. Chuck Blakeman, INC
Letting people learn from each others and share viewpoints is also essential in nailing down cultural behaviors that may affect individual perceptions.
“What we realized is that while many women shared similar workplace stories, most men were simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace. In an effort to correct the massive information disparity, we decided to get the data and the stories.” Trae Vassallo, Ellen Levy, Michele Madansky, Hillary Mickell, Bennett Porter, Monica Leas, Julie Oberweis, Stanford University, Elephant In The Valley
From a cultural viewpoint, changes will need to occur on the communication level so individuals can identify the best way to talk and listen to specific audiences.
“Negotiating with someone from a different country is almost always more ambiguous than negotiating with someone from one’s own country. Hence, people may be motivated to reduce this uncertainty by considering the image of the other country as an important source of information.” Yu Yang David De Cremer, HBR
Once they are able to communicate across cultures, individuals should also seek to estimate the necessity of working together and use collaboration in a smart way.
“Collaboration is indeed the answer to many of today’s most pressing business challenges. But more isn’t always better. Leaders must learn to recognize, promote, and efficiently distribute the right kinds of collaborative work, or their teams and top talent will bear the costs of too much demand for too little supply.” Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, Adam Grant HBR
This may require to let individuals talk freely about how they preferably use team working.
“Third, beyond technical knowledge, there is a need to emphasize “softer” core skills and behaviors. For example, workshop participants talked about the value of teamwork, a healthy skepticism of standard approaches, and a willingness to adopt an agile, “fast failure” mind-set.” David Meer, Strategy and Business
By enabling individuals to act as who they are in the whole organization, management is able to share both the thinking and the execution of strategy to which every worker can contribute.
“The very best strategic leadership helps the entire organization understand that all of its choices result in the strategy that customers experience, creating a framework by which every person in organization makes the choices he or she needs to make.” Roger L Martin, HBR
Because it is led by communities of skills and interests, innovation can now build end to end stories that benefit beyond companies’ known frontiers and participate to develop individuals.
“Understanding individual drivers for resource-constrained innovation can help entrepreneurs gain the quintessential buy-in from communities, but at a larger scale, systematic evaluations of innovation origins can help inform the design of targeted programs to engender self-determined development in individual communities.” Shruthi Baskaran & Khanjan Mehta, SSIR
Leading Social Communities
As a result, innovation leaders build and manage communities where visions and actions are enabled by commonly understood context and priorities.
“While all were visionaries capable of creating a vision and inspiring others to pursue it, none considered this their primary role. Instead, they saw themselves as “social architects”, whose role was to shape the context. They created communities in which others were willing and able to innovate.” Linda A. Hill, Wallace Brett Donham, World Economic Forum
On the management level, change and leadership will need to be combined so as to create the appropriate environment where innovation communities can develop and generate value.
“One major reason organizations struggle is because they treat both leadership development and change management as separate rather than interrelated challenges. Cultural changes cannot happen without leadership, and efforts to change culture are the crucible in which leadership is developed.” Ryan W. Quinn Robert E. Quinn, HBR
Consequently, simplicity and clarity will come back at the heart of communications, enabling teams to recognize those areas of expertise where they not only find a common purpose, but are also convinced they can combine their individual values towards common synergies.
“When it comes to getting a company to act as a unified whole, even the best intentions are often undermined by three fundamental challenges: lack of visibility, too much complexity, and difficulty establishing trust.” Elizabeth Doty, Strategy and Business
Once company cultures are built outside companies’ remit, they offer the appropriate environment for technologies such as social media platforms to generate their full potential.
“The resources afforded by social media platforms positions these actors as “systems resource integrators” in both B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) contexts. The role of social media platforms as systems resource integrators is to provide a technological platform that exposes its modular resources to facilitate higher order resource formations through the active participation of non-intermediary actors (i.e. customers and firms); which otherwise limits the ability of firms and customers to realize their optimal value co-creation potential.” Stephen P. Singaraju, , Quan Anh Nguyen , Outi Niininen , Gillian Sullivan-Mort, Science Direct
Beyond technological tools, such company cultures require that the entire society reflects this freedom of choice and enables individuals to define their own path to growth.
” Tomorrow, technological progress will set us free from work slavery. To achieve this, we will need to put an end to neoliberalism and build a more democratic society.” Peter Fleming, Courrier International
Thinking with communities also enables to build the right mission based on what the community thinks their real value to society is or can be.
In order to enable cultures and communities to spread beyond known frontiers, management should also let communities drive missions while they open their own thinking scope to unknown areas.
“The CIO really has to understand industry changes, current and future business operating models, and the role that technology has in this future. All this implies a well run IT shop and a strong IT leadership team that can free up the CIO to be more outward focused.” Edward Qualtrough, ComputerWorld UK
This way, communities find and define the autonomy they need to achieve objectives shared and approved by management. This flexibility is needed to let individuals shape both their personal and team value for a specific project.
“Clear direction on the “what and why” helps create the space for “how” teams execute their tasks in a flexible manner. Managers support their teams with the resources and authority to get their tasks accomplished without impinging on how they get it done, thus balancing alignment with autonomy.” FRED KRAWCHUK, IESE Business School
At the end of the day, company cultures rely on a specific equation combining trust and development.
“The concept of a people centric organisation is an exciting one and one that all businesses should consider. Whilst not all of us have the means to be able to implement learning systems, or social intranets, we all do have the ability to trust and nurture staff.” Kerry Butters, MarkItWrite
In these trusted communities and clusters, individuals and teams can have the autonomy to define their own rules and codes, generating the creativity needed for open innovation.
“A Positive Social Culture takes the time to build a Social Collaborative Code between members which focuses on self-responsibility for doing the right thing by engaging intrinsic motivation and crafting the behaviours of Open Business.” Jeremy Scrivens, LinkedIn
Furthermore, individuals create links and connections that enable them to face failures and celebrate successes on the emotional level as a team.
“These moments of aliveness in connection with others create a sense of safety and enhanced capability that become a powerful platform for development. We grow in high-quality connections because our thinking is broadened, we absorb knowledge more quickly, our action repertoire is expanded, and we are more engaged, playful, open, and resilient in the face of setbacks.” Jane E. Dutton, Emily Heaphy, HBR
As a result, company cultures will focus on new personalities for leadership to properly identify the communities and skills that need to be built around commonly shared visions and objectives.
“A culture of trust requires leaders to truly listen to the people they work with, score high on empathy and be seen to be humble. In today’s business world the leader, the organization he leads and the people inside it are part of a company’s brand values.” Tanveer Naseer
Company cultures will therefore lead to maximise the motivation of individuals as they will be asked to drive towards achievements that only them can reach.
“We found that a high-performing culture maximizes the play, purpose, and potential felt by its people, and minimizes the emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia.” This is known as creating total motivation (ToMo). Lindsay McGregor, Neel Doshi, HBR
Ultimately, company cultures need to be driven by a strong sense of transparency and honesty where individuals can trust in the value they bring to their brand, simply by being themselves.