Human networks. They’re already at the center of a revolutionary shift in the way businesses are operating. In management principles, the shift from a top-down hierarchy is making room for a new workplace that values community, innovation and transparency. We now know that a company’s biggest financial asset is not necessarily numbers-based; it’s driven by human capital.
That same notion is taking hold in software development, as well. The value of how human networks drive digital transformation is front and center, crumbling hierarchical management structures in favor of team-based, self-managed, autonomous business agility that makes scaling possible.
A New Way Forward
Difficult to quantify but invaluable to an organization, a surge is the ability of a network of people to fluidly flex and self-organize using the experience and expertise of its members to sense and respond to opportunity by pulling together people and resources quickly and with minimal disruption.
Using their ability to surge, networks create financial value, which in turn encourages learning, stimulates collaboration, innovation, and promotes effective operations. Networks surge across the enterprise by engaging five levers that establish agility. These capabilities lay a crucial foundation for business agility:
Teaming and Workflow
- Working Surface Teaming
- Program Teaming
- Portfolio Teaming
Leadership and Culture
- Leadership Styles
- Direction of Learning
- Cultural Focus
Management and Structure
- Management Focus
- Organizational Structures
- Business Model
- Value Proposition
- Network Reach
- Network Connectivity
The Hub of Innovation
Like spokes on a wheel, the surge of networks forms the foundation for growth and innovation. Without the lever of human connectivity, the wheel succumbs to weakness and is susceptible to penetration. The strength of the organization is in doubt.
On the other hand, the new networked organization supports an agile enterprise in ways previously not possible, offering true potential:
- Decisions are made closer to the working surface (those doing the core technical and design work), and decisions that are made become timely and clear.
- Management enables collaboration, encouraging connections across functional and organizational boundaries instead of stifled communication.
- Communication is relational (promoting team-to-team and person-to-person networks), jumping rapidly across large organizational distances to solve problems and spread ideas.
- Problem solving taps the tacit knowledge of individuals and synthesizes the explicit knowledge of the collective.
- Role flexing enables people to respond quickly to changes in the environment, promoting collaboration and innovation.
Rapid response – to challenge and to change – positions leadership inside of the network. This is a radical shift from management’s traditional position on the outside. It’s one of the keys to promoting the marriage of business agility, human networks and surging. Networks that surge have clear shared goals, trust, and both strong and weak ties to the rest of the organization. These cultural values unleash business agility: innovation and operational excellence.
Your biggest asset is probably your least-tapped one: the human networks within your organization. This is more important not only for business agility within the enterprise, but also for the knowledge-based economy. As businesses depend more and more on information and high-level skills to seek it out, human networks are an increasingly important resource predictive of revenue potential, growth and sustainability.