High-Tech Organizational AER

By Stephen Carman

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

Let’s face it; we take too many things in today’s advanced, high-tech economy for granted. And sadly, others we often just plain neglect.

Maybe it’s the radio waves that enable us to communicate with cool gadgets, untethered from the sockets that power them. Maybe it’s the transformation from watercraft to aircraft that allows us to soar to our destination. We often forget to appreciate both of these remarkable developments. Air is another source of power and production capability that we often take for granted.

Living Work Communities

Arie De Geus, a Royal Dutch/Shell Group executive, wrote Living Company in an attempt to understand why, with few exceptions, the average life span of a Fortune 500 company is less than half a century. In conclusion, the most enduring organizations treat their businesses as “living work communities” rather than pure economic machines.

Anyone half-serious about their physical fitness understands the importance of breathing, yet, we seldom give it much thought.  It just seems to happen (or not). We all remember Mr. Miyagi’s coaching in Karate Kid, “breathe in through the nose, out the mouth,” and yet we take for granted or neglect this very basic instruction. To create these living work communities, we need to stop neglecting air.

Organizations Need Air, But a Different Kind

Any basic search of what concerns today’s senior organizational leaders will reveal one variant of the following: Alignment, Engagement, or Risk Mitigation (A.E.R.). This is the air or A.E.R. today’s organizations need if they expect to compete in today’s turbulent market.

Too often, organizations treat strategy as something they do annually versus “something [they] have. ” Both strategy and alignment must be tended to with discipline if organizations expect to maintain the alignment they need to be effective. Engagement To engage is to attract and captivate. Organizations that attend to engagement are serious about how they capture, commit to, and form a covenant with their workforce and customer base. For these organizations, satisfaction is not the absence of complacency but rather the presence and pursuit of fulfillment and, ultimately, the creation of raving fans (both inside and outside the organization).

Too often, organizations have a start-stop approach to talent and customer engagement. We see an explosion of talent management, mostly through recruiting and leadership development activities by organizations that foolishly let those activities slip during the recent difficult economic environment.

Organizations that are thriving are those that apply rigorous discipline in good and lean times to ensure the consistent health and vitality of their organization.

Clearly, one needs both: “empowered people and effective control.” Because of the precarious world in which we live, full of uncertainty and instability, it is necessary for organizations to be concerned with the safety and quality of their products and services.

An Organic Approach

Can organizations survive without alignment, engagement, or managing their risk?  Yes, sadly, we see it all too often.  It’s true they don’t last for long, and they are certainly not thriving, but they do seem to eke out an existence. It is important to remember “you do not navigate a company to a predefined destination.”

There are too many unknowns. Instead, you take a more organic approach to strategic leadership by “taking steps, one at a time, into an unknowable future” and maintain flexibility as you lead your living organization.

Suppose you are in a leadership role in your organization, regardless of what level that leadership role is. In that case, you can begin to make a difference by giving some attention to the organizational A.E.R. in your company.  Work on alignment, engagement, and risk mitigation. Begin somewhere. Start small. But do something, and you will be surprised at what a difference you can make.

How Do You Give Attention to High-Tech Organizational AER in Your Company?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Stephen Carman
Stephen Carman
Stephen is an organizational Talent Development Architect & Strategist. He has a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management and is pursuing a Ph.D in Organization & Management at Capella University.
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