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Leading in the “connected” world

April 10, 2014
Shannon Bayer

By Shannon Bayer

According to a recent Fast Company article titled “The Future of Business: 4 Ways Companies Will Change” by Dana Ardi, “We’ve shifted to a business world where collaboration and connection are replacing hierarchy and bureaucracy. The outdated ‘alpha’ notion of aggressive management has given way to the modern era of cooperative ‘beta’ leadership.

“We’re already seeing this take place as some companies take the lead in thinking about how, by giving up top-down control, they can actually get more work done…

“…The changes wrought by the Digital Age will continue to radically reshape our notion of what the workplace is and how we even go about working. Technology will break down geographic and personal barriers in amazing new ways. The traditional office could become obsolete, while home-based video connections become the new norm, and new virtual worlds offer innovative opportunities for collaboration without the limitations of the physical world.”

Read the full article.

Meanwhile, I’m experiencing this increased connectivity firsthand as I write this post on my laptop, 35,000 feet above the continental U.S. I don’t have a window, but given the bumpiness, I’m guessing we’re somewhere near the Rockies. I can email anyone. Business decisions can be made mid-flight, and the constant “fires” of today can be put out before we land. And oh, there’s a movie playing, and I am listening to music on my phone. I can do anything and work from anywhere.

But, this connectivity that allows me to literally work anywhere also requires more collaboration with my colleagues than ever before. And while hierarchy and bureaucracy seem old-fashioned in this day and age, it’s important to remember that proper hierarchy and bureaucracy can be critical to smooth-running operations.

As Ardi’s article also states “…Beta organizations will take strategic positions or strike partnerships with other organizations that create mutually beneficial relationships.”

“…The beta approach will lead to the creation of entire ecosystems where partners, customers, and even competitors will find themselves working side-by-side to solve problems and open up new opportunities for growth.”

The new “strategic partnerships,” as stated in Ardi’s article, are absolutely necessary for maintaining the edge in this fast world. Think about the way Yahoo most recently collaborated with Warren Buffet on the March Madness brackets. That’s not a partnership you would have imagined in the past, but it made a significant impact.

True distribution of decision-making power is what drives stronger collaboration in our connected world. If your organization isn’t working to help leaders and departments collaborate, assign roles, and set expectations, your “connected” workforce won’t be as effective as it needs to be in our highly competitive business world.

So, let’s hear it. Are all your organizational decisions being made in the C-suite? What are you doing to ensure your organization is as collaborative as it can be in our connected world?        

More about Shannon

Shannon Bayer is the Director of Workshops and a Principal Consultant at Linkage. She specializes in providing facilitation and program design on innovation and change leadership. She also works with organizations to improve team effectiveness, negotiation, and coaching. Follow her on Twitter @ShannonJBayer.                          

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