There were a couple of points from Adrian Ho's post on organisational strategies for coping with complexity that resonated, particularly concerning structural fluidity. Most companies are rigidly organised around functional expertise (sales, marketing, finance, operations) which has apparent benefits in terms of shared learnings, goal-setting, reporting, efficiencies, but is not optimised for collaboration, customer experience, product development, innovation. If the latter becomes increasingly important (as I believe it has), then it's interesting to consider structures that are increasingly fluid, and those that act to break down organisational silos.
If our defining impetus, for example, is to organise around opportunity (as Rita Gunther McGrath expounds) then we would likely come up with something far more flexible than current hierarchical silos allow. Similarly, if the strategy is delivery, and rapid development and application of learning becomes more important (as I believe it has), then organising around task, rather than a rigidly defined function makes more sense. Says Adrian:
Fixed teams almost always contain members who are unnecessary or even harmful to the specific task at hand. Organizing around a task builds teams specifically for a goal and brings the added benefit or requiring the rigor of defining a goal before the team is assembled.
In the research that I conducted recently for Econsultancy's guide to Organisational Structures and Resourcing a number of the companies I interviewed spoke of how they were moving towards a heightened level of fluidity in resourcing, particularly between capability that is centralised, and that which is more distributed in local or discrete teams. In many cases the 'hub and spoke' model (where some key capability is centralised and some dispersed) was moving towards a more advanced 'hub as strategy, spoke as execution' model, but there was also greater fluidity in resourcing with expertise moving more readily between the two. And there was also a number of instances of companies adopting more agile resourcing focused around small project teams (something I've long talked about).
I also liked what Adrian said about autonomy (something else I've championed) and our (not always obvious) bias against intellectual self-determinism:
While there is a lot of rhetoric around empowerment, practice does not back it up. Most companies have subtle and not so subtle penalties for thinking too much about what to do and how to do it. This has led to a universal expectation that “someone else” is responsible for telling me what to do. Making it very clear to employees that they are required to figure it out and removing barriers such as structure, process and hierarchy can be liberating for some people and terrifying for others. Clearly this also requires a high-bar for and a non-traditional view of talent.