We are Betterworking (part 1: the ‘why’ and the ‘what’)

By August 29, 2013Blog posts

Welcome to Betterworking, welcome to our new website and welcome to the first post of our new blog.

As we start our journey as a business I’d like to share some thoughts about what’s shaped our mission and purpose, and give some insight into what’s driving us, where our passions lie and how we’re hoping to change things for the better.

In this post I’ll talk about why we’ve established Betterworking – the challenges we see today in the way organisations work, and the opportunities for making things better – and what we mean by working better. My colleague Nick Crawford will be blogging shortly about the how: how organisations can meet these challenges and opportunities, and how we help support the transition to new and better ways of working.

What’s wrong with work?

As our name suggests we’re focused on making work better. But what’s wrong with the way we work, and why do we think it needs to be made better?

We believe the way most organisations work today is based on outdated principles that are acting as a brake on performance and growth. If not addressed we believe these will threaten the viability and sustainability of some organisations, and even entire sectors.

These principles were developed and refined during the last century (as ‘Scientific’ and later ‘Modern’ management) and proved broadly effective in improving efficiency and productivity during a long period of industrial-led economic growth. This way of working is characterised by highly formalised and rigid structures, tight control of people and information, and a gulf between the organisation and individuals who, as employees and customers, produce and consume its goods and services.

New dynamics

But the world has changed, and this way of working is no longer realistic, effective or sustainable.

Employees and customers now expect more: more choice, more involvement, more flexibility, more transparency. Resources are under increasing pressure, with rapidly growing populations and a global economy unable to click into gear. And technology continues to accelerate these changes, making it increasingly easy for people to connect, share and collaborate to work and consume in new and innovative ways.

Challenging the organisation

We believe these dynamics are challenging the traditional role and status of the organisation.

Where people would previously trust businesses and other institutions, they’d now rather trust peers and their own networks (often people who they’ll never meet or speak to). Where people would previously only purchase from ‘trusted’ brands (often those who have invested heavily in ‘push’ marketing), they’ll now base purchasing decisions on word-of-mouth, or increasingly rent or borrow what they need rather than buy it outright. And where people would previously aspire to work for ‘big corporate’, now its never been easier or more desirable to work for yourself or in a much smaller enterprise.

Taken together, these dynamics mean that organisations need to adapt how they work and how they add value if they’re to stay relevant and sustainable in a world that increasingly challenges the fundamental principles on which they’re based.

People working better

But this isn’t about ‘the organisation’ as an abstract concept. This is really about the individuals who comprise these organisations (for what else is an organisation other than a group of people, plus some assets and resources?).

The simple truth is that organisations can only work better (to meet the challenges and opportunities now facing them) by enabling and empowering their people to work better.

Indeed, we believe that only those organisations that are able to unlock the potential of their people (and in so doing, better meet customer needs and generate value) will survive and thrive in the new world order. And therefore the primary role and responsibility of leaders and managers is to create the right conditions for employees to work to their full potential.

Creating the right conditions

So what are the ‘right conditions’?

To a certain extent they’re contextual. Each organisation has its own desired ‘destination’ in terms of outcomes and objectives, its own specific set of circumstances, and employees with their own distinct aspirations and needs. Therefore the particular conditions needed to enable better working are contextual to each organisation.

However, the framework is consistent: on the one hand are the broad cultural and ‘people’ factors (incorporating leadership style, behavioural norms, pay and reward models and so forth), and on the other hand are the broad operational factors (processes, infrastructure, technology and the like). Taken together, these comprise the conditions within which the organisation and its employees work.

Unlocking value

While contextual, the conditions needed for people and organisations to perform at their best are also consistent.

People work best when they have a clear sense of meaning and purpose, when they feel trusted and empowered, when they feel fairly treated and rewarded, and when they have the right tools and processes to operate effectively. And it’s the task of leaders and managers to identify the cultural and operational drivers and ‘levers’ that will create these conditions within their own organisations, and unlock the value-generating potential of their employees.

We call this Betterworking

We believe the journey towards better ways of working is one of continuous improvement: as the world inside and outside the organisation changes, new challenges and opportunities will emerge, so the organisation must become agile and adaptive to ongoing change.

Our mantra is that there’s always a better way to work, and that Betterworking is good for all: not only for employees and organisations, but also for customers whose needs are better served, and for the economy and society more widely.

In our next blog post we’ll take a look at how you go about creating the right cultural and operational conditions within your organisation, and how we at Betterworking can help.

Author: Chris Copland

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