Hybrid organizations / Purpose-driven companies

The author: dr. Arndt Pechstein

Founder: phi360 Consulting ★ Agile Coach, Management Consultant ★ Keynote & TEDx Speaker ★ Biomimicry Expert ★ ExO Coach

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Three powerful ways how to make corporate transformation a success

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Three powerful visions of the 21st century

In my work as a coach helping organizations in their transformation, I have gathered extensive insights into the dynamics, patterns and anti-patterns of change processes including expectations of stakeholders, impediments and risks as well as dependencies and successful approaches. The expectations across all sectors are nearly identical: faster time-to-market, more customer centricity, a higher employee engagement, the growth of the organization’s innovation muscle, establishing a learning culture and higher adaptation and recovery capabilities.

Over the years, I have identified not only the most suitable approaches to support transition projects in organizations but also crystallized three abundance-based vision narratives boosting motivation and emotional alignment within the org as well as establishing market and thought leadership to the outside. These visions are strongly interconnected but focus on one aspect each.

Living Systems: Boosting adaptation, resilience & circular design

The underlying narrative of this vision is the understanding that living systems can serve as a blueprint and inspiration for an effective, sustainable and adaptable design of our processes, businesses, organizations and societies. As Janine Benyus likes to put it: “A sustainable world already exists”.

Nature over the course of 3.8 billion years has developed success-proven strategies to manage complexity, test and iterate,

moreover adapt to disruptive changes, solve problems successfully and build resilient and healthy systems. Taking inspiration from such strategies has been shown to be of huge transformative advantage. People and every single organization we have created are living systems that try to maintain themselves, develop and change. This is nicely reflected in the language we use to describe economics today; it has adopted numerous biological terms in the past 15 years. Whenever we talk about decentralized networks, self-organization, adaptation to change, resilience, learning organizations, business ecosystems, iterative and incremental innovation or evolutionary design we essentially talk biology. Nature has a tremendous transformative power both because it holds the answers to all these concepts and challenges above but also because it inspires with awe and has beneficial effects on our body and mind. It is scientifically proven, that the contact with other forms of life and nature improves our health, stimulates our mind and creates better learning and work results (a concept known as biophilia). There is hardly anyone who doesn’t associate positive feelings with nature experiences.

Therefore, nature and living systems hold a huge visionary potential to shape and modify our systems by imitating nature.

Especially in times of environmental destruction and biodiversity loss, more and more people become planet-aware. This beautifully converges with the visions and trends of a sharing and circular economy and responsible consumption. Using resources more responsibly, connecting isolated processes to win-win-relationships and valuing access to services over ownership of goods creates a new logic of business and society.

Organizations following this vision narrative usually strive to become more sustainable, develop circular solutions and be more responsible with resources. They apply systems approaches to drive change across the entire value chain. Interface and Patagonia are two inspiring examples.

Human Collaboratives: Reinventing employment & awakening human potential

Maybe we shouldn’t feel threatened by new technologies that can eliminate the need for human work especially for repetitive tasks. We should rather embrace it as an opportunity for growth and development. In the near future, we will have an abundance of one of our most valuable assets: time. And with time comes leisure, freedom and quality of life which in turn increases happiness and creativity. For this, surely, we need to redesign economy and education. With a growth and collaboration mindset and the inner urge to passionately contribute to society according to our skills, we could transform society and humanity at large and achieve both higher levels of collective prosperity and individual happiness and self-actualization.

The second overarching narrative regards the future vision of humans and their role in society, bridging purposeful work with life fulfillment. Today, one of the main drivers for work is making a living. We spend the majority of our lifetime at a job that doesn’t fulfill us, in processes that burn us out. And when we finally reach retirement, we don’t have the money or the health or both to live the dream that we saved for so long. The near future might hold more.

What if work was a combination of passion, skill and impact – something we truly loved?

The Japanese have practiced this concept for centuries: Ikigai, the reason for being. It is the sweet-spot where passion, skill, and impact meet. Interestingly, the new work movement that grows bigger and bigger is very similar. Respectful, purpose-driven and self-directed work meets personal development and work-life blending. This converges with the trend of the gig economy where people engage in temporary, collaborative projects.

Organizations following this vision narrative usually strive to be innovative, customer-centric and attractive workplaces where people can unleash their creative potential. They apply agile approaches, run on autonomy and self-organization and establish flat hierarchies. Spotify, Google, Haier and Semco are great examples.

Exponential Technologies: Tapping abundance and accelerating change

The third vision narrative completes the previous two. It is about exploring exponential technologies to shape the future and solve the world’s most urgent problems. This vision strives for the empowerment of individuals and organizations to develop breakthrough solutions using accelerating technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and digital biology. It is about developing an exponential mindset and toolset to solve humanity’s biggest challenges by applying emerging technologies to create a better and more livable future for everyone.

Within the next few decades, we’ll encounter some of the greatest transitions of humankind. Already today, technological disruption is affecting every aspect of our lives – businesses, industries, societies. It even redefines what it means to be human. These changes just started and show no signs of slowing down; on the contrary, they are accelerating exponentially. Despite still facing a daunting list of global challenges, we have seen repeatedly that science and technology can surface big solutions. By leveraging emerging technologies around a massive transformative purpose (MTP) aspirational goals focused on creating a different future become possible. Tesla with its mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy is a wonderful example of the exponential technology vision around an MTP.

Hybrid Thinking: Future-proofing organizations and society

All three vision narratives above build on abundance (nature/living systems, people/networks, information/technology). Yet, none of them works independently or is fully functional by itself. Only the combination of them, nature, people and technology, can prepare us for the global challenges and rapid changes we are facing. We need to apply a Hybrid Thinking approach to really have an impact. It is time to combine visions and approaches. Hybrid Thinking does exactly that. It combines cutting-edge approaches with a sound scientific basis to drive behavioral and organizational change. It starts with a transformative purpose, empowers people to unfold their full potential, builds effective and high-performant teams, and establishes organizations that create true impact.

The narrative of separation has conditioned us to focus on scarcity, competition, and the short-term maximization of individual benefit. On that basis, we have created societies and an entire economic system. Biological evolution instead has shown that systemic abundance can be unlocked through collaborative networks that optimize the whole system. Now is the time for humans to transform. And for this transformation we have to start with a hybrid vision!

About the author: Dr. Arndt Pechstein is a neuroscientist, agile & ExO coach, and management consultant. He is an energetic blend of a scientist, serial entrepreneur, and business coach. He holds a PhD in neuroscience, a diploma in biochemistry & biotechnology, and has specialist backgrounds in Agile & Design Thinking, Exponential Organizations, Circular Economy, and Biomimicry. As founder and managing partner of the boutique consultancy phi360, Initiator of the Hybrid Thinking approach and chairman of the Biomimicry Academy, he advises companies and organizations on agile transition, organizational development, innovation, new work, bio-inspired & disruptive innovation, and an exponential & digital mindset. Arndt’s mission is shaping a just, sustainable, and desirable future.

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