In a single boss, single team past, activity and community often came from the same location or function. Nowadays in successful virtual, matrix and digital organizations, activity and community are diverging significantly.
People will loosely remain part of business functions to build capability, community and drive functional excellence. However activity is now heading away from vertical silos in two parallel directions. People are likely to be part of a 2-speed organization, working on both:
- Horizontal processes and workflow – such as a supply chain – which will be fairly stable over time but require cross functional, virtual and matrix working as the norm. These value streams will increasingly extend outside the organization to include customers and suppliers.
- More fragmented, multiple and transient digital projects and activities – many of them only existing for a short time. These teams are enabled through technology and cut across the traditional silos and boundaries of organizations.
At the same time people still want a stable, core home and sense of community, and we still need to build long-term capabilities. This will define our ability to deliver business results whilst at the same time attracting, retaining, engaging and developing the best people. This is the new look of activity and community:
Modern virtual and digital organizations will need to reflect the fast-changing needs of activity with the more stable needs of community in ways of working and developing people. In recent blogs we’ve explored how to adapt to the fast-changing needs of virtual activity – now we turn to building a true virtual community, both within and outside our traditional function, department and organization.
Again, technology can help us here. Standard social media (Twitter, LinkedIn etc…) with its searchable profiles and simple opportunities for interaction and networking can be a useful tool for building virtual communities and make it easier to identify colleagues with similar skills or complimentary interests. (Although getting sucked into Twitter for hours on end each day is unlikely to be the best use of your time).
Answering McKinsey’s latest global survey on business use of social technology tools, 45% of Executives reported that these tools are now very or extremely integrated into day-to-day work, up from 30% the year before (n=2,091).
Message-based platforms in particular are starting to change the way people interact and work together. In the past 3 years, in companies that are using message-based platforms:
- 80% of employees have communicated more often with others outside their teams, functions or business units
- 63% of teams have self-organized more frequently
- 45% say day to day work has become more project based, instead of team based or function based
- 32% say boundaries between employees, vendors and customers have blurred
- 29% say their organization’s formal hierarchy has become much flatter or disappeared altogether
This is just one example of the many ways we can use technology to help us keep up to speed with both our day-to-day work activity and our wider communities.
If you would like to see more of our latest research led insights into virtual, matrix and digital teams please download our new white paper here.