07/06/2015 05:33 EDT | Updated 07/06/2016 05:59 EDT

Are Businesses Ready for True Reinvention?

Shutterstock / EDHAR

Lately, I've been consumed about the Future of Work. It seems to be the news of the day... every day.

When we started ARCOMPANY a few years back the vision was to help companies realize the change that was happening in the market: how people are communicating differently and driving the discussion, how the increasing connectedness is changing people's perceptions about the world, and as a result, their behaviours. No longer is a company certain of its future. Consumer attention is in hot demand. Media and information is pulling it in different directions. Advertising is not as effective as it once was. Those organizations that have the luxury of large media expenditure will continuously outshine those companies who are rationalizing and making marketing more accountable for every dollar.

It's these two facets alone: 1) change in market communication 2) resulting change in consumer behaviour that need to spark a fire and force organizations to understand them, determine what it means and what they need to do to adapt.

The organizations, at large, will eventually need to wake up and realize the very structures that have lasted for decades are inhibiting them and stifling their ability to effectively understand and pay attention to their customers. This is what the market demands. Yet, companies continue to operate under the guise that what's worked for decades can and will subsist.

You've read it, I'm sure: Tony Hsieh's bold move to transition Zappos into a Holacracy model is met with prying eyes. Where the industrial revolution created a culture of process and hierarchy, it also created a system of disseminated accountability. It was easy to hide behind your job description and claim, "It's not my responsibility." You were measured on your particular outcomes. Your manager's job was to nurture and motivate you and give you the resources to succeed.

Today's economy has begun to remove layers of hierarchy as a response to increasing market volatility. We are seeing layoffs more frequently these days. The freelance economy is surging in numbers. The people that are fortunate enough to remain in the organization are met with increasing pressure to perform. Their accountability has grown but no one has given them the resources they need to succeed. So while the market is changing, the organization is responding with short-term band-aid solutions that are creating a culture that is increasingly overwhelmed, frustrated and disgruntled.

If you haven't read it yet, please read Hung Pham's The Lifecycle of the Disengaged Employee. In it Hung writes,

"I didn't care about making money. I only cared about creating value and impact for others and was willing to work for little to no money to do it.

I kept my corporate job because I needed to pay my bills but I was miserable. I always looked forward to 5pm because that's when I got to work on my other jobs. I hated that I couldn't have the same passion, the same excitement with my corporate job. I hated being disengaged."

A recent Gallup poll indicated that 70 per cent of employees are disengaged at work.

Mark Babbitt, author and CEO of YouTern and Switch & Shift said in a keynote at the Reinvent Work Summit, "Climate is how it feels. Culture is what you do. Social is a Mindset."

I wrote about this millennial mindset, and how it pervades generations. How millennials think will continue to change the way consumers respond and purchase. It will also influence how organizations need to adapt to how they communicate and how they work.


We're continuing to see evidence that change needs to happen. In the Generational Think Tanks we hold every week, our panelists have come to terms that this digital or Millennial mindset does exist and many of us exhibit it in ourselves and our daily lives. We expect this will translate to our work environment. Our panelists are saying this:

John Graham (GenY):

Within the current corporate culture there is this unstated norm that impresses upon its employees to remain silent when spoken to, and to do your job. But when a company says they want progressive, and out of the box thinking and increased collaboration, we call Bullshit every time. That labels us negatively. Saying one thing and doing another is so foreign to us because we live in a transparent world.

Ryan Pannell (GenX)

Who's to blame? It's a combination of GenY parents and US [GenX]. The Boomers groomed us well. Remember, we were the FU Generation. When it came our time to mentor Millennials, we said, "Screw You... Good Luck with that!" We welched on our obligation and then we turned around and complained that these kids had no acumen nor fundamental business skills.

These days everyone in the organization needs to have a voice irrespective of tenure. It's essential to promoting a culture where people want to feel they have a say and what they say will be heard.

The lessons that the economy and technology have bestowed to us in the last decade will be coming to a head whether we like it or not.

Businesses need to change and will thrive as long as there is innovation. Those tenured within the organization have been conditioned to think the same say because those processes were working. Not any longer. Creativity will come from anywhere and businesses should not only allow it, they should enable it and reinforce it continuously.

We are seeing a new era in the workforce where Millennials will want their work-life balance, and not be necessarily willing to "live to work." As Ryan Pannell so aptly points out:

How can companies get what they need out of what their employees are willing to provide?

The new normal means constant change. Employee retention will be just as important as customer retention. The panacea is the strength of the dynamic and inclusive organization.

You don't need to be a change-agent to understand this.


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