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The Dual Organization: Security In Transition

In our current economic world, change has become the norm. The question for companies is how they can be adaptable and, at the same time, stable in fluctuating markets. the dual organization provides an answer to this question: A dual operating system in the company.

Today, Here, Tomorrow, There?

Climate change, scarcity of resources, geopolitical crises, digitization, and structural change, is challenging the established business models of many companies. Companies must be more vigilant to act consistently in a volatile economic world.

John P. Kotter, management consultant and lecturer at Harvard Business School, writes that those responsible can master the challenges of our time with two organizational operating systems: On the one hand, it is important to continue to get everything out of the day-to-day business of the present.

On the other hand, those responsible have to keep an eye on trends and growth markets of the future, look for innovative business models in the digital world, try them out – and, when it comes down to it, scale them.

More than classic organizational structures are needed to balance day-to-day business and future business. Establishing a second operating system, designed as an open organizational network and more receptive to bold, creative future topics, is helpful. From this emerges the dual organization able to interact, learn, adapt and remain competitive in the new context – despite the instability and uncertainty of the market environment.

The Limits In Day-To-Day Business

Classic, hierarchical organizational structures are useful for day-to-day business. They help to complete known processes with efficiency, predictability, and effectiveness. However, these rather rigid structures cannot keep up with today’s rapid change. Hierarchies and standardized management processes are inherently risk-averse and resilient to rapid change.

Part of the problem is political: Managers are reluctant to take risks unless they have permission from their superiors. Part of the problem is also cultural: people stick to their habits. So instead of forcing extensive changes in the primary organizational system, those responsible should relieve it – and install a second operating system in the company that is organized and detached from the hierarchical structures.

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Efficient And Innovative

The dual organization has a dual ability by integrating a second operational level into its structure: in addition to the hierarchically stable level, there is also an innovative-dynamic level. On the one hand, this makes it possible to make proven products, processes, and structures more efficient and to ensure commercial exploitation.

On the other hand, the dual organization also allows innovative business models to be developed and tested and new growth markets to be entered. The company has one operative mainstay today – and one in the future.

The Best Of Both Worlds

With the dynamic network structures, the organization can identify new trends, create new perspectives and visions and make new opportunities commercially usable. This includes experimental spaces for new behaviors, approaches, and innovations. This co-creative structural level makes it possible to develop and scale new business models, open up markets, and try out and establish new approaches and habits.

Therefore, the second operating system is responsible for systematic questioning, consistent testing, and tomorrow’s business. The network consists of cross-hierarchical and cross-disciplinary initiatives by intrinsically motivated volunteers.

However, the dual organization also has its price. Willingness to change in management and in large parts of the workforce, the acceptance of a culture of contradictions, a high degree of self-organization on the part of the employees – or also a goal-oriented, trusting leadership are among the necessary skills. In addition to this high level of maturity in the company, management has the task of finding a balance between the two operating systems – and maintaining it. Organizations often take the path of least resistance – this behavior and the return to the classic operating system must be actively avoided.

Conclusion: More Marketability And Sustainability

Our business world is turning faster and faster. The pressure to change is increasing – but no one wants to “break the mold” of their organization. One solution is establishing a second operating system: a network of intrinsically motivated employees who work together adaptively and creatively.

This network and the classic hierarchy are connected via moderated communication and activity flows. As a result, the classic organization can concentrate on day-to-day operations, while the dynamic network anticipates tomorrow’s digital trends and changes. The concept of the dual organization shows companies a way to become more marketable and future-proof.