Delivered like clockwork. Well-oiled machine. The next growth engine. Have you heard these expressions at the workplace? These are used as metaphors to describe effective projects, teams and innovative ideas. These metaphors, rooted in the industrial age, give you a vivid imagery of wheels spinning in stunning precision, mechanical parts moving flawlessly and cylinders firing away. Efficiency and productivity are keywords that come to mind when you think of these systems.
These metaphors are so widely and frequently used that they deeply shape our thinking and understanding of our workplace. The problem is that these metaphors don’t describe modern workplaces. Machines are great at doing the same thing, the same way repeatedly over time. The metaphor of organizations as machines works well only when the environment is controlled, predictable and structured.
It is no secret that we live in a new hyperconnected era where there is heightened uncertainty and unpredictability. In the digital age, organizations are not machines; they operate more like living and breathing organisms. Accordingly, we need a new operating logic that defines the way our projects get done, how we operate in teams and how we unlock new ideas.
As we move from the machine to the organism metaphor, we find that traditional command and control hierarchies are dissolving. Organizations have become ecosystems and traditional organizational designs have transformed into networks of competencies where individuals and teams are connected both internally and externally in intricate ways. Consequently, individuals must work with a significantly greater number of stakeholders inside and outside the organization to accomplish their goals. Traditional sources of power, centered around authority and control, don’t have the same effectiveness as they did during the industrial age. So how does an employee get things done?
In the digital age, influencing is the new currency that helps one get things done. Here are the four things one must focus on to be able to influence stakeholders in the digital age.
This article series is authored by Rajiv Jayaraman & Subramanian Kalpathi.
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