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Organizational transformation; digitization and ideologies!

The principle of impact governance is increasingly the norm in the management of organizations and companies. While many organizations are acting as models by placing all the stakeholders in their ecosystems at the very center of their organizations’ architecture and decision-making processes, others are slow to adopt a transformational process – often due to a lack of maturity or lack of tools to help them accelerate the pace. Before plunging into an internal transformation, it is important to begin a process of reflection and ask the right questions. 

As part of the Fanslab Campus and the launch of our Intelligent Community platform, a tool co-created by and for managers to put the ecosystem of individuals back at the center of governance practices by bringing together all stakeholders in a universe where they can collaborate, contribute and express themselves, we felt it was essential to partner with a professional in organizational transformation and impact governance in order to support leaders in their reflections and to initiate a digital transformation, certainly, but also an ideological one? 

Here is a short text from our collaborator and trainer Jean-François Bonnes on the real meaning of the word transformation for an organization, and why it is essential, in this day and age, to bring the community back to the heart of practices and decisions! 

Would you be able to define what a transformation is? You know the term that is used everywhere: “digital” transformation here, “managerial” transformation there, or “business model” transformation. Quite honestly, until recently, I was unable to give a precise meaning to the word “transformation”. These transformations seem more like a consequence than a why. You know, the “whys” are more like a “soul supplement” rather than “we’re losing market share”, “our model is no longer viable” or “Google’s arrival in my market is going to kill me”… Then it all came out on August 15th with a thunderous blow to the U.S. economic world (and I’ll grant you, it was a bit under the radar)!

 

The new purpose of an organization

Have you heard of the Business Roundtable (BRT)? It is an association that brings together the 183 CEOs of the largest American companies (Apple, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, IBM,…) and regularly publishes positions on the “Principles of Corporate Governance”.  Since 1997, and based on the economic theories of Milton Friedman, it reminds us that the raison d’être of organizations is to generate profits for shareholders. We know the music. And so on August 15, signed by the CEOs of the largest American companies, the BRT published a letter on the new “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation”: consider 1) the customer, 2) employees, 3) partners, 4) the community and the environment, 5) shareholders.

The reading grid suddenly becomes much more complex! The raison d’être of an organization is no longer simply to generate profits for shareholders, but to take into account five stakeholders! This is where the meaning of the word “transformation” takes root: how can the entire organization, i.e. leaders, employees and teams, be brought to systematically integrate these five stakeholders into the way they operate?

 

Towards impact governance

In recent years, we have seen a plethora of terminologies blossom to provide solutions and inspiration. We will talk about liberated enterprise, post-conventional enterprise, holacratic enterprise, agile enterprise, altruistic enterprise, political enterprise, or progressive enterprise… I am fascinated by these movements of real transformation that are underway. They are inexhaustible sources of inspiration. I admire the courage of the leaders and the teams that undertake them because these organizations are based on the intelligence of these human riches and not just on the leader. The more organizations engage, the more, by trickle-down, the economic fabric, our economy, the community and the environment will benefit.  Behind all these terminologies, they act on five common levers on which they rely to drive the transformation:trust, transparency, subsidiarity, pleasure and finally meaning. And each in their own way, according to their endorsed approach (liberated, holacratic, agile, …), these organizations define how they will operationalize these levers.

You find these terms a bit esoteric? Abstract? Especially in a business context… From an operational point of view, what does trust mean? Transparency? Subsidiarity? Pleasure? Meaning? Concretely, and I dare say philosophically, what do these words mean? How, personally, as a leader, can I bring them to life in my organization? How can operational processes integrate them in their DNA? Asking these questions and starting to provide answers only makes sense if they are collective and co-constructed with the teams: these are the first steps towards impact governance!

 

Let’s start with trust

Let’s go into a little more detail by taking the first lever as an example: trust. Ask yourself the question: do you really trust yourself i.e. 1) Do you trust yourself 2) Do you trust others 3) Are you trustworthy? Let’s continue with this lever: if you really trust, are all control procedures justified or do they really contribute to create value for the organization or the customer? We could do the same exercise for transparency, subsidiarity, fun and meaning.

 

The color of leadership

Transforming your operational governance naturally leads us to the notion of leadership. I’m going to be transparent: I don’t like labels. They are comforting and call for a model, and therefore a methodology. A kind of ready-to-use one. Let’s forget for a moment about “human”, “conscious”, or “benevolent” leadership and talk about the “color” of leadership. Why is that? Because I consider that leadership is nothing more and nothing less than the sum of attitudes and behaviors that we assume in a situation. So as a leader, in a management committee or in a team, what color do you want to give to your leadership and that of your team by integrating these five levers in your way of doing things? What behaviors and attitudes do you expect from yourself and your colleagues, teams or the management committee? Thus the color of leadership becomes specific to each organization because it is co-created by the teams! It’s more organic. It defines and reinforces your own organizational culture… and you know what? It seems that it increases commitment, performance… and consequently, profits!

The fuel … sorry, the wind of these transformations is therefore the capacity that leaders and teams have to make decisions and establish co-constructed processes through the filter of this matrix: activating the five levers of impact governance at the service of the five stakeholders!

 

Are you ready?

 

By Jean-François BONNES

Transformation for good

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