Mobilising Minds , written by two consultants at McKinsey provides more evidence for S curves.
Noting the current environment of increasing complexity, the author's suggest that today’s companies are built according to the 20th century world, and:
"Primarily to mobilise their labour and capital assets – not the intangible assets that enable profits per employee to rise to levels never seen before."
The authors recommend that CEOs and their top management teams devote "a large fraction of their total capacity to the internal task of design and building the needed organisational capabilities".
I’ve already posted extensively on my view of these capabilities. The McKinsey consultants see them being mainly focused on mind power: "intangible output of thinking employees, those who use subjective thinking and problem solving to do their jobs".
The challenge then is "to convert opportunities from the latent mind power that already exists in its workforce".
This is seen to be largely a matter of placing organisation design at the centre of strategy (rather than hoping that an organising model will evolve through serendipity) to enable the flow of intangibles through the organisation.
In particular, this organisation design should encourage:
- formal networks to enable people to collaborate, for example in communities of practice
- talent marketplaces which allow managers seeking talent and job seekers to find each other
- knowledge marketplaces which allow employees seeking particular kinds of knowledge to find those ‘author workers’ wanting to build their personal reputation – for example, through internal blogs.
(This focus on organisation design reminded me of Dave Ulrich's points when recently updating Michigan’s HR competencies that "HR may be placing too much emphasis on talent acquisition at the expense of organisational design".)
These aren't terribly difficult requirements, and so the authors declare themselves:
"Quite comfortable believing that even the average large company should be able to target improvements of 30 to 60% or more simply by investing in designing and building the strategic organisational capabilities needed to mobilise mind power."