The fluid organisation

What would the performance output of a fluid organisation be like? What would a fluid organisation look like? My understanding of a fluid organisation would be fluid malleable teams consisting of

  • Leaders
  • Workers
  • Managers
The idea is simple, the implementation would be ridiculously hard to implement, with resistance to change and all. I have seen some teams have managers that fight for resources. The resources are the workers and leaders. What this enables are virtual teams. Here are some of my preliminary views on what could potentially happen.

 

What is lost?

  • Team cohesion and camaraderie
  • Understanding of the corporate structure and hierarchy
  • Stability that is offered from dedicated teams
  • many more…
Team cohesion and camaraderie

Imagine that one day you are a part of team X and the next you are a part of team Y. This would have a serious impact on feeling a part of a team. It would break cohesion that is formed from a stable team. It does however keep everyone on their toes. It would also enable the individuals involved to feel more independent. Which can have both advantages and disadvantages. An example of an advantage would be that the individuals would become more autonomous. An example of a disadvantage would be that the individual could feel little loyalty towards the firm.

Understanding of the corporate structure and hierarchy

A lot of the organisations I have worked with have a very hierarchical structure. It allows them to remunerate on levels of the organisation and to leverage off those peoples positions within the firm. I find this to be counter productive and it enables complacency. I feel that if you were to loose this structure you would have to have hard evidence as to why someone should be in your team. It would expose high performers for what they are and enable proper ways to analyse peoples performance. It would however add extra complexity to the managers role in the firm. You are paying them to manage and not to manage project plans.

Stability that is offered from dedicated teams

There comes a certain level of stability from dedicated teams. The knowledge grows and is shared within the team and it becomes very competent in their specific roles. There is however a down side. They learn how to be complacent and fool the system into believing that they are in fact working when they are not. They also start to gain a monopoly on the work that they do and it becomes very difficult to dislodge them from the position.

What is gained?

  • Agility to adapt to fast paced environments
  • Flexibility to respond to highly changing systems
  • Holistic thinking for the firm
  • Inter-“team” communication and aided knowledge transfer
  • Competition for resources
  • many more…
Agility to adapt to fast paced environments

When things need to be developed and delivered quickly, this structure will allow for most knowledgeable people to be contracted in to do the specific goal. This fluidity provides the ability to tailor teams to fit the goal and not try to push the team into goals that they are not suited for.

Flexibility to respond to highly changing systems

In software development, you are consistently faced with changing requirements. This is largely in part to the customer learning what is available to them and how they want to tailor it to suite their needs. If you cannot be flexible to your clients needs, you will be forcing their original requirements back on them. This is bad form as it most probably is not exactly what they need. You need the flexibility to adapt and if the requirements change to require more or less people, then you can allow your team to mold into what the requirements need.

Holistic thinking for the firm

Having teams break apart and reform can get a global holistic thinking within the company. A dedicated steam generally does not think outside of its own requirements, besides maybe for the leader of said team. With a fluid team… the members are competing for positions in work that they want and the managers are competing for the best people. This enables the members of the team to look outside of the current team to what is available to them and where they want to be situated in the company. This equips the members of the organisation to situate themselves where they want to be and empower them to do so.

Inter-“team” communication and aided knowledge transfer

Knowledge gained from one team should be distributed between the individuals of that team. Unless the team is working on separate parts of the system. Even then they get the business knowledge with the area they are associated. This knowledge gets distributed when the team disbands and rebuilds to form another part of the process. It should help to transfer knowledge further than what would have happened if they did not move.

Competition for resources

Competition is not a bad thing. With managers competing for team members… it implies that they are responsible for the work that they deliver and how well they can manage getting their team members and then getting them to perform. Adversely you can see that the individuals within the team will want to work in certain areas and become high in demand. This will implicitly give a form of performance metric by which you can monitor the progress of your people. The main performers and A-type people will really perform in this environment.

Summary

This is just a quick look into what might happen in such an organisation. It relies heavily on many outside influences. This is not a be all and end all post. It is just an idea and will require proper research before any decisions can be made going forward with such a change. Briefly though, it would seem that you would be trading in on stability for flexibility.

  • mohd shahnawaz

    not so informative…….
    need to put some more information about fluid structure of organization.

    • Good point, it was more of an off the cuff idea from a conference that was fleshed out a bit here. I will spend some time to update the post to be more informative when I get the chance. Thank you for the constructive feedback.