2 votes

With the ever growing impact of technology, do you see various jobs and responsibilities being added or other ones dropping off in the corporate org structure of the future?

Thursday, September 17 2015, 09:50 AM
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Responses (8)
  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, September 17 2015, 09:56 AM - #Permalink
    4 votes

    I heard al CEO's will be robots that will be operated by shareholders.

    Oh wait, they already are.

    • E Scott Menter
      more than a month ago
      Wait, you found a CEO motivated by the interests of the shareholders..? Wow. Must be a European thing.
    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      Yeah, they are not like CEO's in the US, where employee satisfaction is far more important than shareholders...
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, September 17 2015, 10:00 AM - #Permalink
    4 votes

    You see jobs and responsibilities coming and going all the time. I wouldn't consider these to be Big Changes. What I do see more of is companies experiementing with new ways of organizing their structure. For example Sociocracy and Holocracy are becoming more common. The idea of self-organizing teams held together by governance processes that are light weight and flexible.

    My experience in larger organizations suggests that islands of this type of working exist today in many places. They do no reflect the formal organization structure according to HR but they do reflect the reality of day to day working in high performing teams. What I see is less business process automation, and more business process design. These teams 'get' process, they throw together process designs in conversations on a daily basis. They use them to make decisions and constantly improve. They use small light weight tools that integrate nicely. They have fun, they feel empowere and they deliver real value to their customers.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, September 17 2015, 10:49 AM - #Permalink
    6 votes

    Yes, there will be, and here are the trends:

    1. a far more flexible workforce - I don't necessarily believe in the remote work as the absolute future of work. I believe there's tremendous value in people meeting and interacting face-to-face. What I mean by flexible is in the contractual relationships - corporate conglomerates are able to restructure their workforce much faster than in the past as the myth of the lifetime employment fades - more people will become empowered to run their own small practices, as a reaction to this very high risk of having a single source of income - salary.

    impact in BPM: far more ecosystems around SRM, CRM, an unbundling of payroll processes

    societal impact: a convergence of small company taxation towards personal income taxation to make the transition seamless, more based on fundamental economic grounds than on tax optimization schemes.

    2. a far more flexible collaboration mesh - communities of interest (bunches of people gathering together to pursue passions and further advancements in certain fields) will outnumber the communities of goal (teams with strongly congruent, top-down driven, objectives).

    impact in BPM: stronger business-focused community / social tools with significant workflow components (workflow engines, rules engines, formal data models and objects)

    3. a democratization of profits - profits will migrate from large companies to mid-sized companies (and partly to the small businesses created by the flexible workforce at 1., just as lifestyle businesses - not more), from incumbent to emergent players etc.

    impact in BPM: a proliferation of good enough, cheap enough, cloud-based, vertically focused, BPMS solutions that cater to these "nouveau riches" that have significant chances of continuously consolidating their business models on a fresh, versatile, technology bed.

    impact in IT: a dissolution of all incumbents that are unable to build ecosystems that cater to this market with a considered approach and a flexible architectural mindset.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, September 17 2015, 11:49 AM - #Permalink
    3 votes

    Yes inevitable significant changes as enterprise software moves to remove complexity, including custom coding, and focus on the front end processes where all information is created. Such commoditization will see the business requirements be the driver and driven by business people not old "IT". Infrastructure and hardware already at commoditized level will be effectively outsourced but directly supporting the new breed of "BPM" driven solutions; business people only want focus on their business process with direct feed back. Yes IoT and intelligent gadgets and processes will bring new capabilities but all must be joined up with next generation software as a Business Process Platform. Double entry book keeping becomes redundant as full audit trail of activity is readily available. At operational level fewer managers needed as people doing the job become empowered.

    So the impact on management? CFO will take greater responsibility for operational reports which will mirror year end formal reports. CIO will work with CFO and become more important to ensure all senior managers have all data they require. I could envisage this role sitting by the CFO at executive level. Constant change will be supported and as such I could see a CPO become an important role to bring relevant knowledge to help users in their thinking on how improvements can be delivered. As already indicated CTO role is effectively outsourced possibly via the supplier of these new agile/adaptive solutions. I can see infrasture/hardware being seamlessly linked to these next generation solution which will challenge some traditional vendors? Financing such investment will become much more like lease purchase like any other asset which recognises the business must own and control their processes....not just the data!

    As for timing well I have always been decades ahead of the game so another decade should see all this unfold.......?

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, September 17 2015, 01:42 PM - #Permalink
    5 votes

    "The Future is here - it just isn't evenly distributed" William Gibson

    Four factors are playing out here.


    In the physical world, change is hard. If you are going to put up a new building, buy machinery or create a new office in a new country, you'd better be pretty sure of what you're doing. So companies put in deliberately slow systems and hierarchies of decisions. Data to see whether a change is beneficial was so onerous to obtain that static became default, with systems which didn't change for decades.

    The digital world is different. While a newspaper was fixed once it was printed, a news app changes almost instantly as the news does. And while a company brochure nailed its vision and methods firmly to an unchanging masthead, a website can change as quickly as you find a competitor is getting traction for their idea over yours. All companies are now largely made up of pixels and bytes - constantly changing, evolving. Change is the default and static means you get left behind.


    In an industrial age company you scaled a company by adding people. Managing these people became the core skill and people managers were given all the top jobs. As the numbers of people were so large leadership was remote thiing - you couldn't hope to know everyone's name. So management became hierarchical with edicts sent down the line, military style (That military style killed 7 million people in WW1 and they rapidly changed to small autonomous teams of experts).

    Now you scale a company by adding data. The muscle people have been replaced by machines and we are left with knowledge workers, often with more skill in their field than their manager. The job of a manager is no longer push - carrying out orders - but pull - bringing the best from his/her team of experts and co-ordinating their work into a single synergistic whole.


    When people moved off the fields into factories, they were judged illiterate and innumerate - their skills in animal husbandry and crop management were ignored. And the children who learned at their feet in the fields, weren't tolerated in the factories. So we took a leaf out of the East India Company's 17th century clerk training system to create schools to teach Maths and English. This grew into the education system of today with its gating by privilege and knowledge award. And in companies it led to hoarding of information and hierarchy by degree and MBA.

    But Google has toppled the whole edifice, making education and data available to all. The whole knowledge economy is crumbling, being replaced by one based on skills. Not animal husbandry, but tech skills, communication skills and a host of others, including process skills.

    But time is running out for the skills people too. As any BPM person knows, paper-shuffling and many management skills can largely be automated. Many of the skill jobs will go too, replaced by a richer, machine learning led experience and systems which start with the customer, rather than at the boundary of the company.


    "The dream of the last century was to own a home. The dream of this century will be to own a company. Working for somebody else is like being a renter for your whole life. In the twenty-first century, we’ll all aspire to own a much larger piece of our lives.” Chris Dixon

    In the 20th century it was easier to communicate within a company than outside it. Now the opposite is true. Manufacturing, which used to be the hard bit, has become commoditised, offshored and available to everyone. So the boundaries of where you need a company and where you need a physical entity rather than simply a notional belonging and shared vision, are shifting fast. It may be, as Kanyi Maquebela believes, “We will probably look back on 'the firm' as a weird artifact of the 20th C.; a temporary result of the 2nd Industrial Revolution."

    Add all of those together and you can certainly see some changes coming. At the moment we have a large number of pre-digital, manager driven companies living in denial and desperately trying to prolong the life of their brain dead corporations. A much smaller number of more modern team and tech-driven companies. And massive growth in people working for themselves, starting new enterprises and working globally from relatively small enterprises, often highly process driven.

    What it means for Process people is that process is moving outside of the corporation. It is becoming an end-to-end part of interlinked customer and supply-chain journeys, working across a number of enterprises pulling together (hopefully) to achieve a common result.


    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Fascinating read Peter, and useful historical examples. I am interested to explore Chris Dixon's assertion about "communicating outside the corporation" as now less expensive than "communicating inside the corporation".

      This gets to the whole analysis of Coase and followers concerning the raison d'etre for corporations as based on organizational costs and communications friction. If one searches Google thusly: you get some interesting results.

      I'm not completely convinced yet . . . costs are still costs.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, September 18 2015, 11:53 AM - #Permalink
    4 votes

    I think there is a lot of interesting experimentation in self-organizing teams. Scientific Management brought us the idea of the "Master Plan" which was the product of a genius (e.g. Henry Ford) and then implemented in detail in the organization. A completely different approach leverages the team itself to come up with the design that works best for each team's particular situation. There is no master plan at all. Sounds completely chaotic but self management or self-organizing teams are being shown to work very well.

    Examples include Sociocracy and Holacracy. The most visible large scale example of adoption is Zappos which shifted the entire company dramaticaly to Holacracy this year. The jury is still out on how well this work, but there is tremendous potential to radically change organizations if it does work.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, September 22 2015, 10:18 AM - #Permalink
    3 votes

    Prediction is a "mugs game", as they used to say. (This is my second attempt at answering this week's question.)

    And the question is a good one -- because executives need to consider the envelope within which they can lead.

    So how is the envelope of management choices changing in a time of rapid technological change?

    Answer: The principles of successful enterprise aren't changing. So it's time to double-down on systems, economics and governance. And keep selling! And as for technology, figure out how these principles may be enabled in different ways.


    The tl;dr answer . . . 

    Before we address the question directly, first let's ask if the question even makes sense. (It's a good question either way, because given current trends, the question almost suggests itself...)

    The question sort of assumes the possibility of "technological derterminism" -- i.e. that technological change will necessarily drive specific changes in the organization of work.

    Typical answers to the question of the impact of technology (not so much here) are a blend of fantasy and ideology.

    * FANTASY - I imagine a glorious future!

    * IDEOLOGY - We should implement a glorious future!

    I remember in the 80's that a lot of journalists dined out on articles describing the "matrix organization". I even worked in one such organization (DEC or Digital Equipment Corporation). After a while, enthusiasm for the matrix organization faded away.

    So, instead of fantasy and ideology, let's be practical.

    We will have more success analyzing how technology changes are absorbed . . . :

    1) in the context of systems, including every aspect of systems described by systems theory, down to the behaviour of the autonomous human actor (I subsume sales, marketing and market structure under systems)

    2) according to economics (e.g. transactions costs a la Coase et. al.)

    3) and according to questions of governance (the polite word for power)

    Put this way, technological change is probably non-deterministic.

    You can make technology do anything!

    I recently read an article asking the interesting question as whether the Soviet Union would have been able to survive if it had lasted long enough to enjoy the computing power we see today. After all the Soviets were pioneers in the study of cybernetics.

    Here's a single example of possible change enabled by technology: the question of economies of scale.

    a) Reduced economies of scale for some types of enterprise -- computing power makes it possible for a smaller number of people to perform work that previously required enormous capital as a step function to viability. Disaggregation and market fragmentation are related processes.

    b) Limit on this market process: But there's a caveat, because we are finding that the complexity and costs of organizing some cloud-based services are much higher than anticipated; this process provides a brake on the process of reduced economies of scale. (However, it's likely that these two processes are not evenly distributed or mirror images of each other. . . )

    For technologists and evangelists and business leaders, all this should be encouraging!

    Because you are not slaves to buzz-words-du-jour (even if such buzz-words are useful to highlight possible paths that can be followed).

    There is lots of room for finding your own way that works. If you conform to principles of good systems design, economics, governance -- and respect human beings as more than a resource -- you have the freedom to succeed in your own way.

    The answers in this forum (both to this question specificallly, and more generally in all Forum questions) already are some great explorations of what this freedom means.

    So, build the future. And then sell it!

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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, September 23 2015, 03:19 PM - #Permalink
    2 votes
    Observed trends: - Flatter org. structure – less “deputy” positions. - More transversal and enterprise-wide units – as organisations have to destroy functional silos. - Pushing non-core activities to an ecosystem of consulting companies. - Investing into people by offering mobility within the organisation. - Making a temporarily centre-of-excellence to transform the business-as-usual. Thanks, AS
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