Building a flexible organisational culture for a transformative era

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82% of millennials said that they consider the workplace’s technology when deciding whether or not to accept a position and 45% of this group are likely to quit a job with sub-par technology. Blended work environments might have become the norm in a post-pandemic world, but these findings pertain to Dell and Intel’s third Future Workforce Study. that was undertaken in 2016. While the pandemic might have exacerbated remote working, this transformation has been building up for much longer. Professor Walter Russell Mead (in an article in the Wall Street Journal) claimed that the world has entered a transformative era and that we need to prepare for more chaos and instability.

A flexible organisational culture is better poised to embrace the transformative era

Professor Mead called the pandemic a dress rehearsal for the transformation that is coming. The buzz around adaptive culture and flexible organisations is building as companies attempt to transition towards more flexible work environments that are ready to embrace the transformative era. David Windley, a veteran human resources leader and a Forbes council member emphasises on the need to manage outcomes and results, not inputs and processes. Having a performance-driven culture will result in successful outcomes. He believes Flex-work employees must know the level of performance expected and what metrics will be used to measure their work. The more information an employee has about expectations and key performance indicators (KPIs), the more they will flourish in a flexible environment.

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What is a flexible organisation?

A flexible organisation can adapt to new, unexpected challenges quickly and effectively. In our data-based approach to Organisational Culture, flexibility is mainly characterised by two dimensions of the Multi-Focus model™:

Organisational Effectiveness: we measure Organisational Effectiveness on a scale ranging from Means-oriented (score towards 0) to Goal-oriented (score towards 100). In a Means-oriented culture, the way in which the work is done matters the most. People focus on how they do their work. In a Goal-oriented culture, what matters the most is the outcome. Employees strive to achieve internal goals and results, sometimes even taking risks to achieve those goals. People focus on what is being done.

This graph (below) gives you an overview of what kind of behaviour you might expect in organisations along different parts of this scale

If you want your organisation to be as flexible as possible, you should aim to be as Goal-oriented as you can. But remember, Organisational Culture should always support your overall strategy.


We measure Control as ranging from Easy-going to Strict work discipline. A very easy-going culture has loose internal structure, little control and discipline, and lacks predictability. People are free to improvise a lot and, as a result, there are many surprises. In a very strict culture, there is a great deal of internal control. People focus on being cost conscious, punctual and serious.

In the graph below, you’ll find an overview of what kind of behaviour you might expect in organisations landing in different parts of the graph.

When aiming for a flexible culture to thrive and succeed, organisations should have a culture more towards the easy-going direction. This isn’t as easy as simply aiming to score 0 (Easy-going) on this dimension. Most often there is a need for some control, like working-hours or some form of reporting, even for the most easy-going teams or functions of your organisation.

Flexibility requires easy-goingness to ensure people can think creatively and on their feet. At the same time, in most teams, you also need a goal to direct the efforts of these very easy-going workers. Just remember, the more rules and practices you implement, the less the people will be able to think for themselves and be flexible.

Many organisations want to become more flexible but also want to increase Control, in order to avoid surprises. However, avoiding surprises isn’t flexibility; Flexibility is the ability to deal with the surprises.

Reach out to us to discuss how you can future proof your company with our structured programs that can help you build a flexible organisational culture.

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