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Resources - what's different going forward?

21st Century Orgs take a very different view of resources than the status quo. What they are and how they should be sourced and valued is reconsidered. Here we identify how across key resource areas: information, funding, resource procedure and raw materials. People, although mentioned here, is not seen as a resource in 21st Century Orgs, they are people first.

Status Quo

21st Century Orgs

Information

Information is centrally managed.
Information is locally managed.
Access to information increases with seniority.
Access to information increases with how relevant it is to your role.
Large amounts of information are deemed too confidential for front-line workers.
Very little, if any, information is deemed too confidential for front-line workers.
Limited use of technology to provide live information feeds to employees on organisation performance.
Extensive use of technology to provide live information feeds to employees on organisation performance.
Information is (perhaps unintentionally) used as a control mechanism.
Information is never used as a control mechanism. The role of information is to act like oxygen to the whole system.
Information defaults to private.
Information defaults to public and transparent.
Members communicate impersonally and, most likely, primarily over email.
Employees communicate over more social platforms and more face to face exchanges are encouraged.

Funding

The only route to gain funding for creative ideas and innovation is upwards and to a small number of people.
There are multiple routes to funding for innovation, not just upwards (e.g. organisational crowdfunding).
Budgets are most likely annual and are almost certainly based on historic figures with a tweak going forward. This encourages “spend it because we have it left” syndrome.
Budgets may well not exist at all. If they do, it is recognised that business doesn’t work in neat annual cycles and they will take a more forward-looking approach (what do we need for x, regardless of last year?) There is no “spend it because we have it left” syndrome.
Budgets are extensive and highly detailed.
Budgets are far less complex, with a simple projected cash flow and cost expectations.
Funding requirements tend to be a case of obtaining as much as each department can for the year ahead.
Funding requirements tend to be a case of what various teams realistically need for the year ahead with a consideration of what else the organisation is going through.
Budgets are submitted to senior leadership, who become the only people to have visibility across all of them. Funding is then allocated from a central pot and is finalised either by agreement between senior department heads or are just allocated by the board.
Budgets are shared widely and are open for everyone to see. Budgets are requested by departments and all peers have the right to challenge them to increase or decrease.
Personal expenditure is subject to close control and, most likely, an employee handbook detailing what is appropriate.
Personal spending is up to the individual, but will be subject to peer-to-peer accountability; employee handbook detailing what is appropriate is unlikely.

Materials

An increasing concern for the sustainability of materials used but in the context of a definition of success dominated by finance. A complete and holistic approach to sustainable materials. Not only is it good for the business, it's also a moral absolute.
Very little thinking about the externalities associated with running the organisation.
Empathy and understanding that the organisation has a large amount of externalised resource costs and that it needs to consider and take responsibility for them.

People


People are talked about and managed as a resource.
People are not talked about and managed as a resource, they are treated as people.

Allocation

Resources are deployed on fixed, regular (perhaps annual) schedules.

Resources are much more dynamically distributed.
The default is to source inputs centrally for the purposes of efficiency.
The default is to source inputs locally, by the teams that need them, for the purposes of adaptability. If resources need to be pooled to achieve a volume discount, then that is self-organised by the individuals and teams requiring those resources.
Only people with certain permissions can source inputs.
Everyone can source inputs if they’re needed.
Someone recommends a resource requirement and other people decide if it’s necessary and then oversee the purchase requirement.
The person who recommends the resource requirement is responsible for overseeing the purchase process.
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  1. John Featherby

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