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Progressive Trends in Management

Nowadays the term “people first” is heard a lot, basically it can be said that it is the central idea of the professional business management known as “Human Center Management” which is a call to pay attention and care for people within companies as a starting point to have healthier organizations.


At the same time, many people are asking and worrying, about the future of work as a result of digitalization, Artificial Intelligence, robotics and other forms of automation.


Modern companies, those that are leading the route to follow, are investing and converting the way in which they manage their businesses, giving a central role to their humanization.


During my participation as a keynote speaker at the 12th Human Capital Forum held in Bogotá on November 20, 2019, I talked about the trends that are being implemented in the most progressive companies, and that will undoubtedly be generalized to most of the companies that understand the need to evolve, to do things differently as they have been doing and this is putting people at the center of their business.


This entry summarizes my speech that was based on my own professional experiences in different sectors complemented with an article I read at the web of some months ago.


The first trend, and in my view the fundamental one, is having a Purpose as a company. Those are known as purpose-driven organizations. Let's see:



Purpose is the permanent reason for the existence of a company or organization. It is WHY it exists; you can consider the star that guides the horizon, the compass that marks the path.


It is the central axis of our organization, with which we can discern when we have to make decisions that generate real value to what we do. It helps us to make decisions with an eye on the medium and long term and acts as a motivating element for workers.


The Purpose is not an initiative, or a strategy. It is the vital center of the organization. It must be fundamental for decisions, conversations and behaviors at all levels of the company, and lead to its authenticity and achieve the competitive advantages it claims to have.


Purpose is what helps us stay on track, what inspires us to leave as a legacy, the contribution we want to make. It is broad, inspiring, motivating and based on what we can do for others, external to us. Connect the heart and head.


At the business level, avant-garde organizations have begun to include the Purpose within the key definitions such as mission, vision, values, principles and declarations of intention.


Companies that have incorporated the Purpose into their daily lives, notice a general evolution of the business since this becomes fundamental for the motivation and retention of Talent, and at the same time for the definition of their reason for being and the depuration of the activities that are out of the way. In short, it helps to strengthen the company.


Unfortunately, not everybody seems to realize the importance of the Purpose for the benefit of the company in all areas, the least numerically quantifiable such as climate and organizational culture, Talent, leadership and also for those more concrete such as marketing, reduction of costs and the income statement.


In many cases the need to find the Purpose of the company is not seen, since it is believed, erroneously, that having defined the mission, vision and values is sufficient. And it is not like that. The Purpose is crucial.


Progressive organizations focus on building a workplace around a common Purpose and values because having a Purpose and meaning gives people the energy, passion and motivation to get out of bed in the morning.


This Purpose must translate into:

Organization, individual and team objectives, ensuring that everyone is aligned.

Encourages the creation of intra-communities with shared ideals among employees, but also with customers, suppliers and others.

Help unleash the potential of an organization


We could conclude by saying that these trends focus on the value of the person; they are models to potentiate, unleash and connect people within the organization


Similarly, there are 7 other avant-garde trends that are very interesting to mention:


Skills and strengths

The assignment of tasks and responsibilities based on hierarchical positions and job descriptions (always outdated), which generate demotivation and presentism, are lagging behind.


If they could choose, people would prefer to work on the tasks they like, those that fit their talents, skills and strengths. Working on what you are good at brings an increase in motivation and commitment.


Progressive organizations try to make use of the diverse talents present throughout the organization. They have removed job descriptions and job titles, and are promoting that employees develop their talents, exploring new things even without being formally qualified.


With this mentality, they demonstrate and enhance those talents, skills, interests and resources that no one in the organization knew they have it. They offer people the freedom to join different working teams based on their interests, talents and strengths. Some go beyond allowing their employees to choose their tasks and responsibilities.



Trust and freedom

Goodbye to rancid bureaucracy that is nothing more than a barrier to commitment and success since it prevents autonomy, innovation and creativity.


For progressive organizations, employees:

Are responsible adults who can be trusted.

They do not need extensive control.

They perform better when they are given a high degree of autonomy.

You can trust that they will do their job the way they see fit.

They have the power to decide where, when and with whom to work.


This concept goes hand in hand with the exercise of modern, accompanying leadership.



True Transparency

The mentality that information is equal to power must disappear.

The notion of limiting access to information or centralizing its distribution in leaders also has an expiration date.


Progressive organizations are having a truly open attitude towards information, moving towards a radical transparency where access is universal and where a mindset of asking anything is encouraged.


To successfully implement such an open policy regarding information, it means that:

There is more confidence from both team members and leaders.

The entire company should be granted access to data, documents and finances in real time.

We must give people the right information at the right time.

This leads to decide better; faster and therefore the problems are resolved before.

Similarly, it is a tool to foster collaboration within and outside the organization.


Without a doubt, the top of a transparent organization is one where even the salaries of all employees and managers are known. This is always a taboo in many organizations, and the excuse is always in terms of security and privacy, but in reality, it is that they are not transparent in this practice because basically there is so much inequality in wages, that it is better that these differences are not known.


Does it sound like a utopia? Can be. But imagine that you would like to be transparent with wages, that would mean that you would have to be fairer and more equitable in salary compensation therefore that would generate a significant organizational change in the company.



Accompanying Leadership

The leadership that directs, orders and controls its subordinates is completely outdated. This form of leadership is based on fear, control and telling others what and how to do their job. Tends to neglect the wisdom of the group. Those at the lower levels in the organization feel disconnected, forgotten.


Progressive organizations are challenging the status quo, as their leaders are doing things differently:

They accompany their teams on a daily basis, creating a different business culture.

Embody the mission and values of the organization.

They do everything in their power to eliminate barriers.

Help the employees to prosper.

Authority is no longer linked to rank, but to the ability to lead by example.



Network of networks

Progressive organizations know that the hierarchical pyramid is obsolete. It just doesn't fit with the current environment that changes quickly. The rigidity of "command and control" does not promote agility, innovation and commitment.


Currently they are adopting alternative structures that highlight the value of each person, connecting and enhancing their capabilities. The idea is to turn the rigid pyramid into an agile network of teams.


Some of the features are:

Networks of up to 15 people.

They are usually multidisciplinary.

Responsible for their own results.

Connect to other networks to form network of networks.

They feel the impact of their successes and failures (financial).

Increases responsibility, entrepreneurship, communication, adaptability and willingness to support each other.




Hand in hand with the rigidity of the hierarchical pyramid, comes cautious management where planning and predicting are its fundamental principles.


The new reality is that as the environment becomes more complex, it is impossible to make precise predictions. And that is why adaptability is now much more important. Progressive organizations focus on experimentation rather than rigid predictions.


Some features of these organizations:

They adopt experimentation in everything they do: products, ways of working and even managerial structures.

They take out early prototypes to have feedback that allows them to adjust and improve in the initial stages.

Change is no longer an event that takes place once a year. It is part of the daily work.

The motto of these organizations is something like “better to experiment and fail than never make mistakes”



Functional Decisions, not hierarchical

Just as the rigid pyramid is outdated, the way companies make their decisions is also being modernized.


If in the traditional companies the decision-making increases with the position in the hierarchy and there is an excessive centralization. At the progressive organizations the decision making tends to be highly decentralized.


This basically means that front-line employees are the ones who make the most decisions if the goal is to be agile, dynamic and effective in the attention of customers and suppliers.


This way of having freedom for decision-making brings responsibility for them, the need to adjust when necessary and obviously accountability, by employees who have been given the responsibility of taking decisions



These trends help employees feel they have been treated as people / human beings by their organizations and as a consequence increase their sense of belonging, because they feel they are part of a team, of a community that has a purpose.


At the same time, being an integral part of a team with a common goal makes them more motivated to innovate. We could say that companies that work with an inclusive culture can expect to reap the benefits of having happier, committed and empowered working people.


We could conclude by saying that these trends focus on the value of the person; they are models to potentiate, unleash and connect people within the organization; and where the Purpose is the engine of everything, the highest, deepest, broadest level of managing companies and organizations, based on people.


Piero Gandini - Human Capital Forum Bogota Nov 2019