How long will organisations designed for the 20th century survive in the 21st?

Many of today’s most fast-growing and innovative companies have chosen a different type of organisation structure and leadership style than the traditional hierarchical and top-down managed model. Is their success attributable only to their innovative products, services and business models or is it actually the other way around; that they are fast-moving and innovative because they are organised and led differently?

A new breed of organisations is spearheading innovation and growth worldwide.

Centigo recently hosted a well-attended event at our offices at WeWork near King’s Cross in London which elaborated on the key characteristics of successful modern organisations, how to transform an organisation, and how innovation and change projects benefit from applying progressive methods.

The first speaker of the afternoon was Hannah Gunewardena, who described how WeWork encourage a new way of working and act not only as a physical meeting place but also a virtual community; connecting professionals and companies as well as providing an environment that stimulates creativity and co-creation. Obviously, the event could not have a more fitting venue!

Next speaker was Pim de Morrée from the Corporate Rebels who have visited and interviewed more than a hundred of today’s most innovative and fast-growing organisations around the world, in their quest to make work more fun. Corporate Rebels themselves have recently been named one of the world’s top progressive management thinkers. Pim described the eight key characteristics of progressive organisations and gave examples of how they differ from traditional organisations. The crystal clear correlation between employee engagement and productivity, profitability, and quality was a key take-away!

Next, Tom Nixon, coach and consultant for purposeful organisations, presented his views on how companies and organisations can transform. One word of advice was to take it step by step and to encourage distributed decision making. Apparently, there are fewer accidents in round-abouts than at traffic light controlled crossings; an indication that individuals who make own responsible decisions out-perform centralised control.

The last speaker, Centigo’s Ragnar Agnell, first presented the growth journey of Centigo (one of the companies on Corporate Rebels’ so-called ‘bucket list’ of most inspiring and interesting companies to work with) and how network-based leadership and the holistic Business Wellness approach pervades the organisation model and leadership style. A key feature is the customer intimacy, which comes with putting the employee and the customer in centre of the organisation chart, one on each side of the coin. Ragnar described how innovation and transformation projects benefit from being injected by this progressive mindset and culture, for instance that the legacy of most Centigo projects is to have changed a part of the customer’s organisation, over and above the tangible project deliveries and outcomes.

An energetic panel debate followed, moderated by Ulrika Axelsson, leader of Centigo’s Financial Services business unit. Ulrika and the audience took a special interest in how companies today organise innovation and growth-oriented initiatives. The panel described their experience in different setups, such as incubators and division X’s compared with trying to inspire and lead innovation within old hierarchical structures. A key take-away was that a larger change project can serve as a vehicle for transforming also the line organisation. This is very intuitive when scaling a start-up or launching a new business area, but can also be applied in transformation projects and strategy implementation projects.

To conclude, the host of the evening Henrik Lofgren (team lead UK) thanked the guest speakers and kicked off the mingle and networking. Henrik also gave the audience a heads up that he at Centigo’s next event in London will share insights from the exciting and fast-growing FinTech scene.