More and more employees are no longer willing to accept management strategy, particularly when it comes to technology.

“Almost 80 percent of our workforce are using Slack,” the IT manager told me ruefully. “It wasn’t part of our plan.” I’ve heard the same story on a number of occasions recently. Slack gets implemented by the employees, as they increasingly give up on the systems that management has decided they should use.

It’s not simply Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) anymore, but also Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). 

Much of traditional management seems to be oblivious to the crisis of productivity that has been created by the way they have mismanaged technology within their own organizations. As recently as September 2016, The Financial Times reported that, “A productivity crisis is stalking the global economy with most countries failing last year to improve their overall efficiency for the first time in decades.”

The productivity crisis is not at all surprising if you have any experience of the truly awful technology most employees are forced to use on a day-to-day basis. Employees, given such terrible tools, are forced to take matters into their own hands.

A 2014 Teradata study asked the question: “Have employees access to the information they need to do their jobs well?” Fifty-three percent of CEOs admitted that they hadn’t. However, when the question was asked to employees, an extraordinary 73 percent said they hadn’t. Study after study shows that employees feel overwhelmed and disengaged at work.

The old model response to terrible systems was “Let them do training.” Basically, the purpose of a lot of training and manuals was to compensate for poor technology design. But as one manager told me ruefully, “They’re not willing to go on one or two-day training courses anymore. They expect the stuff to be easy-to-use.”

Internally, networking and collaboration is often a dead zone. Not only do most organizations have no culture of multidisciplinary, cross-departmental collaboration, but they actively discourage it. Departments are supposed to ‘charge’ each other for work done. Some departments are seen as delivering ‘service.’ They demand you write a detailed specification. Then they deliver exactly to this specification. 

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This is the antithesis of collaboration and modern design thinking.

Internal networking and collaboration suffers because traditional organizational models do not want collaboration to occur. They want to keep you in your cubicle and silo and work you like a factory worker on a production line.

Whereas people are willing to keep their LinkedIn profile up-to-date, they are unwilling to keep their employee profile up-to-date. The reason is that they don’t think there’s anything in it for them. 

Worse, they feel that if their profile is up-to-date, they’ll get more work, and particularly work that they are not rewarded for. I remember talking to a sales person who had come up with a great method of selling a particular product. He published something internally on it and got lots of enquiries from sales people from other countries. His manager forcefully told him to stop replying to those requests — to focus on selling within his own market.

The old organization model is broken. We must stop measuring success simply based on what the organization produces (products, projects). Measure success based on how easy it is for employees and customers to use what the organization produces.

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