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TechEd 2014: 'Working out loud' and other elements of a responsive organisation

Divina Paredes | Sept. 15, 2014
Mark Woodrow, customer success manager, Microsoft, shares tips on how companies can adapt, learn and respond to a constantly evolving world.

"Things are changing fast and the behaviours of people, teams and businesses are changing as well. They are used to using social devices, mobile apps, and cloud applications. A really responsive organisation is one that can respond in that environment," says Mark Woodrow, customer success manager at Microsoft.

This contrasts, he says, to a "hierarchical, controlled ... more process driven organisations," which was the model for the manufacturing and industrial sectors for many years.

He says some organisations still operate this way to a degree.

And yet, he adds, analyst firm Gartner predicts knowledge workers will be spending more time on things that are outside normal processes. Gartner estimates by next year, 40 per cent or more of work in an organisation will fall under "non-routine" category, up from 25 per cent in 2010.

"It is the stuff that they have to think [about which is] 'outside the square' as knowledge managers and decision makers," says Woodrow, who spoke on the topic at the TechEd 2014 in New Zealand.

This could be people looking after customers and being prepared to respond to issues and problems and find solutions "not through a linear process fashion".

As to how CIOs should respond in this environment, he states: "I would encourage CIOs to not look at massive deployments that need to be the same for everyone."

"Look at what business areas actually need, what they can deploy relatively quick applications which can be multi-device [and] come from the cloud, [are] easy to use and don't need training."

For example, a staff member attending a conference will find something innovative in an exhibit that can be applied to the organisation. "You take a picture, upload it, share it with people across the globe or in Christchurch and ask, 'Can we do something about that?'"

"A responsible organisation will enable them to comment, pass it on and work on it," he states.

"It is enabling them to do that and not wait to go back to their desk and email someone. By that stage, someone else would have picked up the idea at the conference."

He says the organisations closest to fitting this mould are generally small and medium-sized businesses that are "digitally focused", and some startups.

"Some of the startups I know completely do away with email; they are very responsive in an organisational sense."

Among New Zealand companies, he cites engineering firm Beca as fitting the bill. "They are enabling staff to do other things on their desktop, and support that collaboration."

He says responsive companies get their products and services to the market quicker than "process driven" organisations that are taking time to doing their plans, and taking years to do it.


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