How can HR go about to drive the change towards a more modern organisation?


Right now, there is a seismic shift occurring in how we see organisations in Sweden and other Nordic countries. We are leaving the old architecture of hierarchies, control, and leadership behind – at Stardust, we call these Napoleon organisations – and moving toward organisational structures based on self-leadership, trust and a solid foundation of values. We call these VUCA organisations where VUCA stands for four factors that describe our world today: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

Every company we meet with is on this change journey, whether they know it or not. The old way of thinking simply doesn’t work in the present day. But how can organisations effectively go about consciously pushing for this change?

Our view is that the move towards becoming a VUCA organisation must be approached looking through two different filters: structures and behaviours.

Structures are things like organisational forms, processes, office design, and so on. Very often, the structures do not naturally push toward a VUCA organisation, but instead bog the organisation down in the old ways. With this in mind, moving toward modernisation requires all structures to be reviewed and questioned. Ask: does this structure drive a more modern VUCA organisation, and if not, what can we do to change it?

Behaviours looks at how people act at all levels. If we are to increase self-leadership, managers must allow employees to take on more responsibility. Then, when employees are allowed to take on more responsibility, they must in turn step up and follow through –although it's not unusual for them to be reluctant at first. All desired behaviours, such as increased delegation, increased self-leadership, increased experimentation, and so on, must be acknowledged, talked about, and continually monitored as they appear in the organisation. And the same can be said for when they are absent!

So, how should an HR manager take on this transformation? There are many ways to go about it, but here is our most important advice:

  1. Make sure you have a clear mandate to drive the change. This is obviously a matter for management, not just an HR issue. Nevertheless, HR is the most appropriate function to carry out this kind of change management
  2. Ensure that there is a clear consensus in the management team around:
  • The purpose of the change
  • The current situation
  • The desired situation
  • How to get from one situation to the other
  1. Create a program, not a project. The program will run for several years and will include many different projects. You could, for example, create a structure review project, a project for leadership development in new behaviours, a project for employee development, another project for supply of skills, and so forth.
  2. Don’t stay in a bubble and try to figure out the solutions alone. Involve employees and leaders as much as you can.
  3. Be prepared to kill your darlings. When you think about it, many HR processes are designed to support more traditional or outdated Napoleon organisations.
  4. Highlight good examples and communicate the change and its progress as often as you can. If you can find measurable results to add to your communications, so much the better.

Dare to experiment. Step outside your comfort zone and be clear that everything you’re doing is intentional. The biggest mistake we can make in our fast-moving world is to be too afraid to make mistakes.

Change is good. Embrace it and reap the benefits of becoming a modern organisation!


Author: Henrik Martin, Stardust Consulting

HenrikMartin_stardustHenrik Martin is the CEO of Stardust Consulting, a Swedish management consultancy devoted to Talent Management that helps organisations attract, develop, and retain talent in alignment with their overall company strategy. Henrik has a 20-year consulting and entrepreneurial career behind him and is a frequently hired lecturer and inspirational speaker for business management. He is the author of Talent Management in Practice and 6 Steps to a Profitable Corporate Culture.

Learn more about Stardust Consulting here

Connect with Henrik Martin on LinkedIn here




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