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Why “Organizational Lag” May Be Your Company’s Biggest Competitive Threat – Valutrics

To say that the world has changed over the last 25 years is a colossal understatement. We’ve experienced various disruptions – the internet, smartphones, tablets, apps, the cloud, electric self-driving cars, drones, virtual reality, and the list goes on.

Not only is the world changing, but the rate of change itself is accelerating: innovations move from concept to daily life at an ever-faster pace. As a result, people and society often struggle to adapt, attempting to adjust social structures and norms to keep up with technological advances – Just think social media and new realities of modern parenting, email inbox overload, or the new technologically-enabled landscape of political campaigning. As early as 1970, Alvin Toffler described these dramatic, disruptive changes as Future Shock which others have since recognized as exponentially accelerating in pace and impact.

What’s been shockingly neglected, though, is the associated impact on people within organizations, not to mention on organizations themselves. Speed and agility are clearly 21st century business success factors, but most organizations struggle to keep up with – or stay ahead of – emerging technologies, shifting business models, and global competition.

Sure, organizational “transformation” initiatives are all the rage today. But more often than not, they focus on rearranging the deck chairs versus truly transforming the organizational model. Even when the strategic marching orders are clear to people, getting everyone aligned and moving forward in unison on a shifting landscape remains a significant task.

As a result of all this, one of the future’s greatest threats to business success is something I call organizational lag – the inability to adapt, in lock-step, with the rapidly evolving external environment to remain competitive. This is essentially the concept of Future Shock extended to the organization. And when organizations move too slowly, they become susceptible to disruption – just think Kodak, Blockbuster, Blackberry, to name but three.

The various causes and symptoms of organizational lag are painfully ever-present and getting worse Traditional organizational models, especially those based on rigid management structures and hierarchies that gate-keep information and communication, only exacerbate these problems.

It’s clear that the whole concept of “organization” is ripe for reinvention. A fundamental change in how people communicate, coordinate, and collaborate is required to avoid organizational lag and continually innovate products, services, processes, customer experiences, business models, and the organization itself.

Regardless of industry, companies that embrace and redesign their organizations around the following six principles will increase their ability to preemptively shape the future versus be disrupted While these principles are ideal-type archetypes, business leaders, technology providers, and researchers can explore solutions around these future success factors.

As Einstein said, “no problem can be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it.” Traditional hierarchical organizations represent last century’s consciousness. Business leaders need to stop rearranging deck chairs. The winners in the future will adopt new organizational models that merge social networks, business strategies, and technology in ways that truly transform work.