re-orgPeople derive a lot of their identity from their organizations, from the type of role they perform to the department they belong to. In response to the question, “what do you do?” people in our Learning Groups will usually say something like: I am John Smith, marketing manager for the XYZ products at Newco.   At the same time, we often hear organizations talking about the need for collaboration, but see few ways this is actually being implemented. There’s something of a contradiction between the strength of identity with a function and need for collaboration.   Our Learning Groups are usually cross-functional with about six to eight people from different jobs doing learning tasks that are adapted to their unique job function. Each week, they come together to discuss what they learned from doing the tasks and, in the process, they share a lot of cross-functional and collaborative information.   People regularly report that cross-functional work is one of the best aspect of our programs. We have begun to see the value of this pay out in a different and somewhat unexpected way. Most of our clients are in markets that are undergoing rapid and disruptive changes. Is there really anyone who is not in this situation?   One of the aspects of these changes is that business models must change. As business models change, so do organizational structures. We used to jokingly say that whatever your organizational structure is today, it will not be how you are organized three to five years from now. But this is not exactly a joke anymore. People are realizing that whatever their identity, department affiliation and skills are now, all are most likely going to be different in the near future.   The side benefit of our diverse Learning Groups is that people know far more about many different functions and organizational units. These same people also come to identify with a larger purpose. Therefore, when the organizational chart changes, they are neither as upset nor feel as dislocated as others who did not participate in our Learning Groups.   This concept becomes the embodiment of the learning organization in which people can fluidly move from one role or one department to another – and love the experience.   Our clients are telling us that this isn’t just a side benefit of using diverse Learning Groups, but the most important result. So… no more jokes about the ever-changing organization – it’s now the reality at most organizations.]]>

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