Transform Your Teams and Your Business to Thrive in Ambiguity

If you feel like technological disruption is forcing you to move at warp speed to keep your business going, you’re not alone. The speed of technological change and the associated availability of key skills are two of the top concerns of global CEOs, according to PwC’s 21st CEO Survey.

To adapt, survive and thrive in this vortex of change, you need to build an agile organization that acts as an ever-evolving organism rather than a rigid machine.

Led by a shared vision and purpose, agile organizations are supported by a dynamic project-based structure and fueled by empowered, motivated teams. These teams come together fluidly to work on a project, evolve as the project changes and dismantle to form new teams as the project wraps up.

Unfortunately, static team structures are still the reality for many organizations, especially those that are not digitally native.

The Obsolete Static Team

I started my career as a product designer at Microsoft’s Office group, which was organized into individual teams for different applications. Teams only changed by hiring new people, often from other internal teams, leading to internal competition for resources.

There was no system of forming dynamic teams around projects. It was up to individual team members to figure out what team would provide the best opportunities for their careers. The projects might have been agile, but the teams were not. As a result, a lot of time was wasted on internal politics, products ended up quite siloed and solutions were likely less innovative.

When these static teams are faced with ambiguous projects, they lack the skills, information and even influence to be effective.

The Dynamic Team: Thriving In Ambiguity

Imagine you work for a consumer product company. The company’s planning process regularly identifies different strategic opportunities to pursue and outcomes the company wants to achieve without prescribing solutions to get there.

Based on the skills required for these projects and individual availability, they assemble a team to come up with solutions on a predefined timeline. As the path to the outcome becomes clearer, new team members with different skills get assigned to the project. Others might get pulled off to work on something else.

Team members expect this ambiguity and welcome the opportunity for diverse work experiences. This is a far more agile team and it thrives in the ambiguity of creative work.

Read my full article on Forbes to find out how your organization can adopt an agile team-forming strategy.

Martijn van Tilburg
September 18th, 2018
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