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The Future Workplace           Home       Organisation Development

These top  trends will reshape the work environment over the next 10 years.

Multicultural Work Environment

During the next few years, many people will have their first experiences with multicultural work groups and will need to adapt to different work expectations and communication styles. This will encourage organizations to value highly those workers and managers who can operate within diversified employee groups.

Knowledge Work will Dominate

We are rapidly shifting from a work force that produces products to one that primarily manages information. The rapid growth of knowledge workers will require organizations to rethink their traditional approached to directing, coaching, and motivating employees.

Given the shrinking half life for many technical skills, this change will place managers under additional pressure to avoid technical obsolescence. Tomorrow's managers will also need to provide their teams with the historical context needed to understand the workings of an organization and continually educate new employees on corporate culture and values.

The Virtual Organization

We are rapidly moving toward a distributed work force that uses electronic technology to link workers and functions at scattered sites. This change is rapidly altering the nature of work from the sales representatives to shipping employees. The rapid growth of the virtual organization can be attributed to the rapid evolution of electronic technologies, the rapid spread of computer networks, and the growth of telecommuting.

The virtual organization will also reshape traditional approaches to group decision making. In contrast to face to face discussions, e-mail discussions make low status individuals less hesitant to participate in discussions and relinquish their point of view. These changes will also help employees identify alternative career targets and let cross-functional teams obtain the best possible mix of technical skills.

Computerized Coaching and Electronic Monitoring

Over the next 10 years, there will be a dramatic increase in the use of electronic systems to accelerate employee learning, augment decision making, and monitor performance. These allow employees to learn their jobs faster, provide workers and managers with immediate feedback, and make it easier to pinpoint performance problems in large call-in centers.

Fluidity of Job Functions

Work methods and functions are no longer permanent and immutable structures; they are fluid processes that require workers to adapt continuously. Managerial performance will be based less on the ability to direct and coordinate work functions and more on improving key work processes.

The dynamic organization require workers to be able to jump quickly into new ventures and manage temporary, project focused teams, as more and more of their work responsibilities will lie outside of the traditional "work niche."

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The True Cost of Poor Quality Data       Home       Organisation Development

Like the costs of poor quality in products and services, the costs of poor quality in data show up in many areas not directly associated with the data itself. For example, bad data quality often shows up as an increase in systems difficulties. As a result, the blame is often put on the programming of the system or the people putting data into the system. 

 

W. Edwards Deming often remarked that only 15% of quality problems in manufacturing result from poor worker effort — the other 85% are the result of systems problems. The same is equally true for quality in data. And, as organizations become more dependent on real-time computer data to operate their businesses, the costs of poor data quality will multiply. Bad data quality often shows up in reconciliation issues. When data does not add up or multiple reports from different sources don’t agree, managers often assume the problems are due to careless data entry or the fact that some other department didn’t do its part correctly. As we will see, this is not usually the case — most data quality problems come from different kinds of problems, the kind that hard work will not correct. In many cases, reconciliation projects become full-time departments with large numbers of full-time employees. Unfortunately, many of those involved have a vested interest in correcting

individual errors, rather than creating a new system that could change the whole framework. 

 

Bad data quality often shows up in lost customers. Most often, poor data quality shows up in the loss of good customers, orders gone wrong, incorrect payroll checks, etc. Organizations don’t know that many of their operational difficulties, such as declining sales, poor customer service, etc., stem from out-of-sync databases.

The cost of fixing data quality is difficult to estimate. Historically, quality initiatives in manufacturing had trouble getting off the ground because managers and workers assumed that making significant improvements would

be enormously expensive. Until the Japanese began to deliver dramatically better quality products at lower costs, most manufacturers assumed the quality of their products was “good enough.” The same problems that have existed with traditional quality initiatives exist with data quality today. Most users and managers assume that their data quality is “good enough” and that, even if it were possible to improve data quality, any way of cleaning up existing data-bases would be prohibitively expensive. The reality is that this need not be the case; like TQM (Total Quality Management), a comprehensive data quality program would more than pay for itself through reduced operational and service costs.

 

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Impact of Downsizing and Restructuring  

There are considerable negative effects that the work force experiences after major organizational change. These effects on the work force include confusion, fear, apathy, depression, and other mental and emotional states which can result in work place impacts such as temporary productivity loss, long-term productivity loss, poor morale, work place injuries, and even violence. Such an impact can be a result of down-sizing, right-sizing, reinvention, reengineering, or any other method used to implement significant change from the status quo.

Organisations repeatedly liquidate assets, business units, manufacturing capability, technologies, research efforts, market development programs, and people to improve short-term earnings and cash performance.

Organizations are saturated in fear and paranoia during times of excessive change and during these periods of instability, employees and managers seek low visibility as a means of avoiding being targeted for loss of employment. Organizations must become sensitive to this phenomenon and look for potential risks of health and safety problems arising out of stress.

Most companies can give themselves high marks for how they handle those who left the various organizations. On the other hand, give the same level of priority to the survivors. This is not unusual, but it is, nevertheless, unacceptable. Unless addressed with the proper level of importance and priority, organizations will increasingly continue to risk incurring catastrophic events.

Individuals and  groups need to grieve over loss as a normal and complex human healing process that must be experienced through to completion. And just as individuals cause themselves great harm in not engaging in and completing the grieving process, so too do organizations harm themselves by avoiding necessary cathartic grieving processes during times of great change. Grieving is natural. It is not gender bound. It is a dynamic healing process that is driven by mind, spirit and soul. And, as a vast amount of management and scientific literature of today is calling for, it is time to reconnect mind, spirit and soul into the work place.

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Technical Experts vs Leadership        Home         Organisation Development

Today, our organizations need the abilities and vision that can be attained from a new leadership perspective. This new leadership perspective will be much more involved with progressive societal skills such as maintaining vision, mentorship, facilitation, motivation and mediation than the traditional model has been. They will be driven by the need to serve as well as to be personally successful. They will not just be technocrats that are only knowledgeable in highly specialized fields, since the very pace of technological change and innovation out strips any one individual's ability to grasp it in its entirety. Their vision, project, people and integration skills will be their strongest assets. They will be "renaissance" men and women who have stripped themselves of the need for personal greed and power to reify their importance. Their love for change, optimism and ability to energize populations to "stretch, grow, and succeed," will far exceed their predecessors attachment to management through control, and "projecting." They represent the next evolutionary step in organizational leadership.

Traditional organizational leadership skills, whose roots began with the industrial revolution are no longer as reliable as in the past. Even though one of the strengths of traditional management, the ability to manage multiple projects of varying complexity and to handle vast amounts of data on a daily basis, remains just as important as ever, the ability to get things done through people in a way that taps and utilizes their creative potential has become increasingly more important.

This ability to effectively manage human potential is the benchmark for the nineties and beyond. For downsizing companies, now that they must accomplish more with less and all within reduced time frames, managing human potential will be their most important capability. No longer will technical project management skill, in and of it self, nor managing human potential through overt direction and oversight policy be sufficient. The traditional ability of leaders to be the "technical experts" and micro-direct people is coming up short in the race to be the best. Leaders are now beginning to see the value and importance of human diversity and the ability to unleash the inherent power of that diversity so as to achieve organizational goals.

No longer will it suffice to be qualified as a leader based upon your technological expertise alone. Your people skills will be in most ways more important. The prerequisite for leadership can no longer be technically driven. The ability to motivate, energize and focus people is the primary skill necessary in the new leaders management tool bag as we go forward into the twenty-first century. Organizations do not lack in technical expertise. However, companies now need leaders with strong people management skills. Organizations must begin the process to locate and strategically position people who are first and foremost people managers and not just technologically superior to their subordinates.

Organizations also need to be sure that they are not cutting budgets in areas that will be necessary in providing their leaders and employees with the skills they will need to go forward in this new world. If not corrected, this disconnect will lead to further organizational dysfunction as company's move into the trying times ahead. Instead of cutting employee/management development programs for short term financial gain, organizations should begin to assess their current training and development capabilities and inventories in terms of both programs available and qualified facilitators. Only those programs that clearly address the needs the changing environment should be maintained. All others should be eliminated. Only new programs that focus on developing new leadership and/or technical skills that will be required going forward should be added. Its time to begin to create learning organizations with educational capabilities to match those needs.

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