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Embrace the Paradigm Shift

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Five years ago, we saw it coming. Now it’s here. The future of work.

Or rather, the updated modern workplace, with new demands for behaviour, use of technology, and adaptability.

The business world of today is radically different from yesterday.

Digitalisation, globalisation, and diversity in generations has huge impacts on the way we interact with customers, attract talent, lay out strategy, are innovative, shape our culture, organise our teams, and develop our leadership.

A modern world with rapid changes and an emerging digitalisation requires – and paves the way for – a new approach to leadership and organisational design.

The technological and societal megatrends affect the market, the organisations, and the expectations from employees and customers, and several new leadership frameworks have been born.

Many organisations and leaders are trying to find their feet in the new paradigm.

They need to be responsive to stay relevant to employees and to customers, and to adapt to a changing world.

This situation is a huge possibility for rethinking and embracing work and leadership, and for addressing the development with a mindset of openness and experimentation: A positive and optimistic paradigm shift is emerging, putting engagement, relations, inclusion, freedom, and leadership in centre; both towards employees and customers.

So, how can you embrace this – and hence make 2018 your best year yet?

First and foremost: Do something! Take action, and embrace it actively. If you wait until “the time is right” or if you say “we’ll look at it when our next quarterly financials are in place”, then you’re either missing out or losing ground.

You need to decide right now, that you want to shape your future. Clearly, the vast amount of changes that occur at the moment makes it challenging, but at the same time creates huge opportunities for redesigning your work. This is a paradigm shift, and requires a shift in mindset and in behaviour.

Think people first. Not ‘employees first’ or ‘customers first’ – or ‘products first’. The business of the future focuses on people as human beings, with problems, feelings, personal lives, histories, parents, and hobbies.

Treat everyone with respect and seek to provide value to them by solving their problems.

Align your business and all your activities around purpose, meaning, sense-making, and value-creation. A clear purpose is both directional and creates identity for employees and customers, as they are part of a movement. Your purpose could even be to solve one of the Global Grand Challenges, or supporting one of the 17

Sustainable Development Goals as defined by UN. Aligning activities and daily work towards the purpose creates meaningfulness and sense-making, which is a huge part of motivation and engagement.

Measuring the value you create is a part of the new set of KPI’s, in addition to social capital and economic health.

Make sure, that you infuse continuous innovation and experimentation everywhere, and in everything from products and processes to leadership, organization, and culture.

Innovation must be something everyone is part of, and ranges from small everyday improvements to radical pivoting using new technology.

At the same time, make sure that you have an insatiable drive for results, that is, the new paradigm is not only based on a humanistic approach but is also driven by
eagerness to reach milestones, create products, win market shares, and make profit.

This goes hand-in- hand.

Finally, understand that the way you create engagement, harvest creativity, and design an adaptable networked organisation is by ensuring that everybody has the possibility to take a lead. Distributed leadership with matching mandate and
authorisation is a key to this.

Also, this embraces the new workforce of diversity in age, cognitive skills, gender, backgrounds in education and experience, and ethnicity.

Clearly, all this is a challenge to many leaders, as we’re traditionally being measured on predictability and “delivery as promised”.

We need to change this, and start measuring our success in new ways: Our social capital and value creation, in addition
to the financial health.

If you want to make 2018 your best year ever, you need to shape it actively.
If you want to make 2018 your best year ever, there is no small, quick fix.

It requires you to change your mindset and adjust behaviour accordingly.

I’m not going to promise you, that it is an easy ride or without challenges. The leaders I’ve seen transform themselves have been through some heavy weather and a tangible change-curve. However, they have benefited hugely from the decision.

Here are concrete some suggestions for how to make 2018 your best year yet:

  • Rethink your mission statement as a purpose
  • Measure the value, you create by asking your employees or customers
  • Map your social capital by conducting an organizational network analysis
  • Embrace social media for social selling and Employee Advocacy.
  • Get a mentor, that is 15 years younger than you. “Reverse Mentoring” is a huge eye opener to many.
  • Make weekly employee “smile-o- meter” surveys
  • Have daily stand-up in your management team around your Agile Leadership Scrum-board

Key points to make it happen are:

  • Increase the frequency of touchpoints with both employees and customers
  • Focus on problem solving, not on products
  • Experiment with innovation and technology
  • Measure social capital and value-creation
  • Know why you do what you do

Five years ago, we saw it coming. Now it’s here. The future of work. Embrace it the paradigm shift.

Erik Korsvik Østergaard

Erik Korsvik Østergaard

Founder, partner, and Leadership Advisor at Bloch&Østergaard

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