Within the innovative organisation, roles will tend not to be rigidly defined; the “job title” is a feature of the utilitarian, command-and-control organisational model, and is associated with the centralisation of expertise and power. As has been mentioned, the shape of such organisations is pyramidal, with the apex representing the directors or owners, and the base being comprised of lower order “task incumbents.”
This is the very antithesis of the innovative model, in which all workers share both the responsibility for, and authority over, achieving the goals of the organisation. By default then, the design of the engaging workplace, physically and psychologically, will encourage free interactions without status barriers, and would facilitate the behaviour patterns of the organisation.
One aspect of this will be the aim and content of staff “performance evaluations.” These are typically used to determine wage increases, promotions, or areas of failure in personal development. They are nominally two-way processes, but in reality are often perceived as a management tool to control the reward of subordinate staff members. What part—if any—will performance evaluations play in the innovative workplace? These still have a useful part to play, but now as opportunities for individuals to highlight to their “support staff” (i.e., those now known as “managers” or “directors”) areas where additional resources might be allocated in order to achieve organisational and personal development. They are opportunities for formal discussions about how to remove barriers to optimum performance, enabling the support staff to direct their efforts in fruitful directions.
This does not mean that there is no responsibility for individual workers to perform—just the opposite, in fact—this approach brings greater personal responsibility, because the preparedness of the organisation to eliminate performance barriers that the workers themselves have identified represents a contractual obligation both to accurately identify the barriers and to show a quantitative or qualitative benefit to the organisation once they have been eliminated. Individuals who no longer work effectively in achieving the goals of the organisation in spite of being provided the opportunity to do so should be replaced.
This outcome is both fair and logical.
Changing the physical design of the workplace to accommodate uncertainty is relatively straightforward. The greatest challenge for those who would gain the performance advantage offered by uncertainty will be adjusting organisational structure and the behaviour of those who presently occupy traditional manager/subordinate positions. This will not happen without considerable planning and assistance, at least at the outset.
Once a rationale for change has been identified, change must be managed.
As an organisation adjusts to more flexible, enabling and engaging ways of communicating internally and externally, the psychological, social, organisational (hierarchical/utilitarian) and physical barriers that are a feature of the “command-and control” design paradigm will be supplanted by a more fluid model which explores and embraces technological and social change.
The first step is to determine if the organisation will benefit from change—and if so, to assess its readiness for change. The identification and analysis of barriers to productivity can be accomplished by drawing on the expertise of specialists including ergonomists, social scientists, and management consultants.
This will necessitate securing the cooperation of all stakeholders, planning and agreeing a timetable for change, and implementing it. This is a major, complex undertaking, and will necessarily involve significant collaboration between planners, designers, employers and employees.