Exploit the potential
The company as a social system
Changes, challenges and restructuring. Nothing stays the same whether we want it to or not. Improvements we make today can become old news by tomorrow. Adaptability, resilience and antifragility – anticipatory and continuous self-renewal is the main challenge facing organizations today. When we talk about better performance, sustainable processes, and a changed culture, we need to understand the company as a “viable system,” in other words, a living and dynamic system. This gives us a sustainable perspective on the exact characteristics that a company needs for the future.
Companies are a special form of organization. Their primary purpose is to generate solutions for the environment around them, for which they receive money in exchange. Organizations are understood as social systems. The systemic approach makes it possible to focus on strategy, structure, processes, and culture as well as on people in their functions and roles. This enables underlying patterns, decision-making processes and dynamics to be understood and influenced in a targeted manner. As part of a comprehensive transformation, the observations and insights gained help identify and address the central fields of action, challenges and potential.
The potential of a “holistic view” lies in the fact that the company, the (management) team and each person forms their own social system. They have their own basic convictions, decision-making premises and a unique way of perceiving their environment. In order to ensure their own survival, they create the following structuring elements (understood as inner principles of order): the corporate strategy, the organizational structure (current organizational design), current processes (in the entire company), and thereby form a unique corporate culture.
The elements are interlinked, mutually dependent and provide the basis for what is possible in a company. This is where both current performance and the success of tomorrow are decided. Because even the best processes fail if people do not put them into practice. Transformation is always based on a specific culture that makes this transformation possible. This requires teams and leaders who are prepared to push themselves to their limits.
A holistic view of the company is necessary in order to understand the interdependencies and decision-making chains, reflect on them and bring them into a common, sustainable alignment. In dealing with formal tasks, problems and solutions in the foreground and integrating what takes place in the background, we approach what sociologist Luhmann calls “rationality” in the organization. The overall vision of the company must function in its surrounding environment: with regards to customers, the supply chain and the wider social system.
Focus on people – in their functions and roles
In a systemic sense, people are not part of an organization but rather part of the environment of the organization. They provide an organization with their perceptual abilities and are key actors. The psychological processes of people cannot be controlled “directly.” People in their function and role(s) remain a central and success-relevant factor in an organization. The organization must ensure the link between people and the organization. This is characterized, for example, by personnel development, appraisal interviews and a certain understanding of leadership.
The team as driver of success and mediator
Teams form their own interaction systems including corresponding rules, values, norms and behavior. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that individuals behave differently in direct conversation compared to a team situation. This means that a team as a social system follows a different logic than an individual or the organization. Employees are more involved in team structures and also encounter other development opportunities here. In addition, new development impulses arise from the perspectives of other disciplines. Well-functioning teams create the formula 1 + 1 = 3; they are more than the sum of their own members and are thus able to achieve top performance and come up with innovations and disruptive ideas on their own (in systemic language, this phenomenon is called emergence).
Teams need a climate of psychological security and trust in each other, both in the people and in the roles of the other members. In addition, in team situations, consideration and negotiation processes increasingly take place in line with the organization’s mission. Future tasks in organizations rely more and more on a team effort. They need a high level of team performance, which is also in a constant state of change. This must be encouraged and supported through reflection in order to activate the potential of “real teams” (characterized by high performance, conflict tolerance and trust) for corporate success. When leaders work together as a leadership team, dealing with “resistance of the line” and opportunities for innovation, there is a good chance that “magic” in high-performance teams will emerge.
Leadership in focus: The power to decide
Providing critical support to project and management teams is vital for the success of effective alignment within the framework of a change project. By reflecting on formal role requirements (tasks, responsibilities, interfaces), as well as informal team dynamics (trust, willingness to take risks, ability to deal with conflict) and jointly examining a new target image, the power of change that is necessary for real change takes effect.
DR. DIRK BAYAS-LINKE, Principal, STAUFEN.AG
Responsible management of change processes in different industries and with different hierarchy levels
Systemic organizational and change consulting, coaching & supervision (DGSV), group dynamics
JÖRG FAULSTICH, Project Manager, STAUFEN.AG
Management and implementation of successful agile transformation and change management projects, support of restructuring and change processes in companies
Organizational development, conception and introduction of agile organizations