Keeping alive the theme of change, and how important it is to sustain, the panel discussion on 'Reinventing Organisations: Do you predict and control, or sense and react' highlighted that change is constant, and organisations should be looking at it at all times.
Kicking off the discussion, Lisa Gill, Founder of Reimaginaire, presented her assessment on how organisations are experimenting and building new structures. She elaborated on the traditional paradigm of a parent-child relationship, relating it to the workplace where managers take responsibility and own the problem, and instead emphasised on the need to move to a more adult-adult relationship, where both hold equal responsibility for growth.
She adds that start-ups tend to reject hierarchy and bureaucracy, which may lead to a leadership vacuum. "No hierarchy and no bureaucracy is not the answer," she said. The manager is accountable and responsible, however the responsibility rests on the employees, which she notes is a, "much more partnership and trust based paradigm."
The panel then went on to discuss how an organisation can realise that it is time to change. Panelists largely agreed that change is constant and one cannot sit back at any point.
Janmejaya Sinha, Chairman-Asia Pacific, BCG, said, "You have to be able to shed the past of success and change what is not broken," adding that inaction is sure death. "When you cannot predict or shape the future, you need to be agile," he said.
"Companies get pushed by consumers, competitors and ambition. They need to find new focus," said Sunil Lulla, MD & Chairman, Grey Worldwide. He added that if companies know their core equity, they can move ahead.
Gill talked about different work cultures and how it is impossible for a CEO to gauge everything, making it crucial for companies to create self-organising teams, pay attention to them and learn from them. "Decentralising things and transparency can make a big difference," she added.
Sinha also spoke about the importance of being open to challenging the paradigms you've grown up with.
About organisational resistance to change, Lulla said, "If people identify with the purpose, they will stay," adding that leaders of organisations need to be clear and transparent about what they want to achieve.
Referring to her earlier point about moving from a parent-child relation to an adult-adult relation, the question of choice, she said, becomes very important, and that employees feel more responsible in the process of change.
The writer is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist.