Our world changes rapidly. The increased number of connections between people and systems is having a huge impact. This connectiveness increases the amount of available information and this is changing our expectations from companies, the government and even each other. Increasingly we expect instant responses to our questions and fast decision-making on the issues that we find important. Also, since more people are able to access information about what decisions made could mean for them, they increasingly want to exercise influence over decision-making processes, making the management of such processes more complex.
Due to these changes, organisations are facing huge challenges. Information is often outdated before it reaches a decision maker. At the same time, connections outside the organisation have increased in number and, due to the demand for influence, increased in intensity. Different stakeholders require constant attention to avoid damage to reputation and to reap the benefits of opportunities that arise as quickly as they disappear. Also, the complexity of the decision-making process means that decentralised units often require input faster then decisions can be taken by the central decision-making authority,
There are many good examples of organisations that introduced new tools and instruments as a first step to tackling these challenges. The introduction of systems that provide instant information, deconcentration of budgets and increased reliance on soft controls to give more freedom for individual decision-making are encouraging examples. Other examples are an increased willingness to integrate a wider set of stakeholder interests in decision-making processes and the introduction of new technology to communicate with these stakeholders, whether they are out- or inside an organisation.
However, our world changes faster than most organisations are currently able to adjust. And without this adjustment they can face friction, disillusion and eventually uncontrolled disruption and destruction. How to pre-empt that from happening is the key question of our time; one that every board of directors, supervisory board or government cabinet should ask.