I think we all got the memo that the world is changing at a rapid pace as the fourth revolution kicks into gear - automation, robotics, machine learning and biotechnology. Talk about disruption!
Some of these changes are fundamental to the way we live our lives – the way we commute, the way we shop, the way we holiday and the way we work.
So, while the world changes around us causing disruption to business models, homes, workplaces and entire industries, the larger systems they operate within seem to struggle to keep up.
Systems, in nature, are supposed to be dynamic and organic, changing with the needs of the people within them. But can that be said of some of the systems humans have built? Economic systems, political systems, educational systems, social systems and, organisational systems. Is it just me, or do these systems seem more rigid than dynamic?
Systems need to support innovation but many of the systems that we live and work within were established to meet a very different set of desired outcomes. They are about command and control, not autonomy and creativity.
The education system is one. Many companies no longer value people with degrees, favouring those with entrepreneurial or real-life experience. For other organisations, a degree is only the base level requirement. A recent study found that men with low entry scores earn higher wages through vocational education with a trade-based education, yet the TAFE take up rate is at an all-time low.
Millennials are likely to change careers five times in their lifetime. Online courses, workshops and YouTube make access to knowledge easier and more affordable than it has ever been. Where does that leave people entering the workplace following 3 or 4 years of university study in debt to the tune of $20,000 to $30,000?
Workplace systems also need to meet the new workplace – it is now multi-generational, older employees want stability and work-life balance while younger employees want flexibility and room to grow.
Atlassian are an Australian company who understand that their performance system needed to change to meet the values, principles and culture they are creating.
Their global head of talent, Bek Chee:
‘We recognise things are not the way they used to be, yet companies haven’t evolved (from) 30 years ago when they were primarily made up of white men. Tech standards have evolved, we have new ways of working, new demographics and generational change.’
It’s important to look at performance systems in new innovative ways. Do your systems support your current values, team and culture?
Roads had to change as we moved from horses to cars, transport had to change as we wanted to get where we’re going faster, the NBN had to be adapted to meet the uptake of users and their need for reliable and fast internet speed.
According to Forum for the Future, systemic change is where relationships between different aspects of the system have changed towards new outcomes and goals, and it’s driven by transformational not incremental change.
To innovate continuously and sustainably, you need to do more than develop new products and services to meet customer needs, you also need to look in the mirror and change the systems that constrain and proliferate industrialist traditional thinking.
Are you driving transformational change to systems in your workplace?
Using a combination of training, coaching and consultancy G2 Innovation can help you rethink and reshape your organisation’s systems to drive innovation.