Friday, 2 July 2010

HCL Technologies - collaborative organisation structures

 

   I met up yesterday with Vineet Nayar, CEO at HCL Technologies who has just written a book, Employee First Customers Second.

Although most of the book deals with this EFCS approach (human capital management, in my language), the book does touch on the importance of social connection too.

For example, Vineet writes about the power of fusion:

“Once we transfer the ownership of our collective problems for the supposedly all-powerful CEO to the employees, people… suddenly see the company as their own enterprise.  They start thinking like entrepreneurs.  Their energy quotient leaps up.  And when that happens with a critical mass of employees (usually, 5 or 10 percent is all you need) throughout the company, it creates a kind of fusion – a coming together of the human particles in the corporate molecule that releases a massive amount of energy.”

He explains that he is also attracted by the idea of a Starfish organisation – one which is decentralised, with every major organ replicated across each arm.

 

Vineet’s book describes some of the activities HCLT have already been undertaking to unleash this fusion:

  • A social network called U&I that employees can use to ask questions to Vineet and has since been extended with My Problems – an opportunity for him to share his concerns with HCLT employees.
  • An updated 360 degree review system which allowed anyone to give feedback on a manager and to then see the results of that manager’s 360, replacing zones of control with spans of influence
  • Communities called Employee First Councils around health and hygiene, art, music, corporate social responsibility and dozens of other issues including business related passions such as a particular technology or a vertical domain area, which allow people to enhance their personas at work, brining the whole person, as well as the person’s families, into the culture of the company.
  • My Blueprint, another social networking system allowing managers to share plans for their specific business areas and get feedback from another 8000 HCLT managers, including people above and below them in the hierarchy.

 

I asked Vineet if there were any other actions HCLT is taking or has planned to further develop its peoples’ connectivity:

 

Stars and Spheres

Vineet described three organisation structures.

The first is the traditional pyramid with its apex at the top.  This is the sort of organisation developed armies when the Commander realised he was only 1 soldier in 500 soldiers so began enabling people down there at the bottom of the pyramid. It was also the organisation structure in the HCL Technologies organisation – they forgot that organisations needs commitment to work and created an HR organisation.

The second model is an inverted pyramid which reflects the value of work that’s undertaken. There is value in both of these two pyramids eg there’s still value in hierarchy.  You need a control structure – it’s when this assumes control over things you can't control that you get a problem).   So you put the two pyramids together and end up with a star in which a manager is accountable to their employees and the employees to the organisation.

In the third model (pictured), the organisation starts engaging every employee in the star organisation – in which employees are involved in 8 or 9 activities related to their own interests so you have these concentric circles around employees.

In the future, if we were to have this conversation again in another 5 years, Vineet suspects he will be drawing a sphere in which these communities have assumed more importance than either of the pyramids.

 

Social change

We talked a little about Social Advantage too.  Vineet suggested that my thinking around the value in connections, not the individual alone, but about collaboration of employees creating value, is absolutely right.

But he also suggested a need to turn theoretical idea to practical issue happening now.

For him, this is about the growth of emerging markets and therefore changes in the demographic pool of customers – becoming younger, based in emerging economies, with girls doing better than boys.  Everything is changing.

Peoples’ influence zones are changing – because of things like Facebook.  Advertising no longer influence what, how or where consumers buy.

Communities are now behind buying decisions.  It’s a very important change.  People are only just finding out how to engage communities to come and buy products.  How do you influence people to take things back into communities of value?

50% of the world are now under 25 years old.  This means we need to learn to create value through collaboration, through communities like Facebook.  In the future, this will be the only way that business will be able to grow.

 

 

Also see my post on HCLT’s employees first approach at Strategic HCM.

And you can read Vineet’s blog posts at vineetnayar.com or blogs.hbr.org.  You can follow him on Twitter at @vineetnayar.

 

 

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