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Describes how the new information society is altering the nature of the workplace and how some corporations are responding
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There is currently a window of opportunity open to re-invent the way business and society is structured. This opportunity has been generated by two trends which have converged at this specific point in history:
New social values are emerging as people move away from an authoritarian model to an individualistic model.
Economic necessity generated by global economic imperatives as the economy changes from industrial to information based.
As a result, corporations must restructure the way they carry out business. In other words, the concept of the corporation as a business unit must be re-invented if the corporation is to remain the building block of the business infrastructure. Lying at the heart of this process is the key fact that while the industrial society transformed workers into consumers, the information society is in the process of transforming employees into capitalists. Re-invented corporations will find ways to work with that transition, while older corporations will inevitable face extinction.
At one time, corporations talked seriously about their responsibility to help the community in which they did business. Today, however, the re-invented corporations are becoming so interconnected with society that being responsible is essentially a part of the social and economic contract by which they exist. In this regard, good corporate citizenship is not a choice but an imperative--and an imperative that it is in the best interests of the corporation itself to honor completely.
In an information based society, any company's sustainable competitive advantage is built squarely on its human resources--and the best people are never attracted to an organization that is bureaucratic or hierarchical in nature.
Three trends in business are reinforcing the need for corporations to re-invent themselves:
The shift in marketplace emphasis from capital resources to intellectual resources, such as information, knowledge and creativity.
Self-management is becoming the norm at many companies--with the result that entire levels of middle management are being eliminated entirely or replaced by computer systems.
The workforce is aging rapidly as the baby boomer generation becomes middle aged. This will mean there will be a labor shortage, and fierce competition for the best employees.
In addition to these three trends, information technology today is being applied to an ever increasing array of industrial tasks. As industrial companies work with greater levels of information, they are gradually being transformed from industrial companies into information organizations. uch of the added value created by the companies of the future will be in direct proportion to their success at creating or capturing information.
As the economy moves from being based on the automobile to being based on the computer, there will be many shake-outs. This is the same process that occurred at the dawn of the automotive era, when from more than 2,300 automobile companies, only four survived.
Success full companies that make the transition from industrial to information age generally have several elements in place:
A powerful vision which creates a sense of purpose for the organization, separate from its products and services.
A leader who successfully articulates that vision throughout the organization.
Ways and means of translating the vision into sales and profits.
Employees who are motivated to act on their own initiatives, and an organizational structure that allows employees to use their best judgment, and who share responsibility for results.
Alignment throughout the organization--the company's day-to-day environment is consistent with the vision of where the company is heading.
An entrepreneurial mindset.
A focus on the people who have the most contact with customers, and making everyone else in the organization work towards making those people as effective as possible.
A willingness to replace the organization chart with networks, hubs, lattices, small teams, circles and wheels--anything that will best facilitate improved communication within the company.
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