On 2 March our Chief Human Capital Officer was invited to an interesting debate entitled "Organisational success: from dream to reality. Implementing values, skills, passion and listening processes to develop dream organisations". This was the second edition of the event organised by Eutropia (link), which strives to develop people and organisations by placing the emphasis on organisational wellbeing and performance.
We asked Alberto to tell us about the experience and the key messages of the event.
The title of your talk was "To create a great company you need three things: a dream, an idea and a deadline...": can we really associate the word ‘organisation' with ‘dream'?
Yes, organisation and dream appear to be the antithesis of each other, an oxymoron almost!
For decades the concept of organisation was dominated by Fordian, Taylorist paradigms: organisation meant the "scientific organisation of work", i.e. something that "boxed in" the factors of production, generating synergies.
If I look back at my 30-year "career" as an organiser, I would say that I spent all my time trying to go beyond this paradigm. I have never stopped dreaming of better ways to bring together people, technology and finances to enable companies to support the business development process in a more efficient way.
I could talk about 3 dreams, one for each decade. In the 90s my dream was "participation".
Italy was still a manufacturing country at this time. There were large factories and shift work with masses of workers going in and out of the gates in their blue uniforms. It was a world in which people were considered the second derivative of automation. It wasn't possible or didn't make sense to replace them with automatic systems. Mass production organised people in such a way as to obtain increasingly competitive costs yet a price was paid in terms of quality. My dream originated in the Land of the Rising Sun, where my studies in lean manufacturing taught me that there were models in which factory employees could also be engaged and continuously motivated by their work. Kaizen ("continuous improvement" in Japanese), TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) and Kanban ("signboard" in Japanese, an inventory control lean manufacturing scheduling system) were new organisational paradigms that hinted at the promise of a new dream. The dream was to put people at the centre. The increase in the quality level of products and services was also determined by the value of the contribution of People. Another sign was the significant fall in levels of absenteeism, a phenomenon stemming from the liberation of People's energies and their greater involvement in the production process.
With the end of the factories and mass production, the new expectations of customers in the first decade of the 2000s could no longer simply be managed with lean manufacturing processes.
My second great dream at the start of the third millennium was therefore that of integration. A "sequential" world in which someone designed the product, someone developed it and someone manufactured it was no longer feasible. Product development processes became horizontal (Project Management) and people began to be organised according to horizontal process rather than by department. Traditional factory hierarchies made way for new business models that leveraged on the ability to organise skills.
This was the great dream of 2000 – 2010, one on which many major businesses have built their success and their high quality products and services.
At a certain point it seemed to me as if businesses had decided to forgo the organisational lever. Tired of mechanistic models and pressed by the growing complexity of the processes, it was increasingly common to hear people say things like: "Organisation isn't necessary, let's hire some good leaders and everything will be fine." The concept of leadership was abused and this led to spontaneous, improvised organisations where the logic of "everyone being on the ball" held sway.
The reaction was a new dream: the dream of talent. We are very familiar with this at ERG... it is a new lever, a new model. A dream organisation is able to free the energies and talent of its people simply by allowing them to express themselves.
Our HCC (inserire qui link alla pagina di dettaglio), which taps into this energy and expertise, can be viewed in this context, where we have organisational models rather than little boxes with hard and fast rules.
Who attended the event and what issue aroused most interest?
The event was attended by HR Managers and the theme of Human Capital Coverage has sparked great interest in the so-called scientific community. They like it and are interested in it because of its mechanistic feel, even if this is only in the final part of the process.
I also talked with the other speakers (Mario Di Loreto, Director of People Value at TIM, Antonella Stefanelli, International PR &Communication Manager at Sanpellegrino Nestlè Waters Italia, Chiara Bisconti, Wellbeing Councillor of the Municipality of Milan, Rosanna Gallo, sole director of Eutropia), receiving further confirmation of the great interest it has aroused: proof that we are all moving in the same direction even if with different experiences and on different paths.
Everything revolves around the same problem: financial and technological resources no longer offer a competitive edge. As such, we have to draw on the human element, the value of people, because people are universes waiting to be explored!