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The Future-Proof Organization


As businesses face increasingly rapid and volatile dynamics of change, business leaders are challenged to continuously shift and (re)position their organizations for survival. With change coming from a multitude of different vectors, what can leaders do to “future-proof” their organizations and win in a digital economy?

On June 26th, 2018, neXCurve’s Leonard Lee and Jodi Starkman hosted a webcast discussion with Roland Deiser, founder and director of the Center for the Future of Organization at the Drucker School of Management.  Roland is also the founder and Chairman of the Executive Corporate Learning Forum (ECLF), a global network of more than 60 major multinational corporations from 14 countries that jointly explore how to develop and sustain strategic capabilities in fast changing environments

Roland joined us to share his thoughts on what organizations need to do to survive the rising tide of digital-induced change impacting every industry and future-proof themselves.

What Does It Mean To Be Future-Proof?

The future-proof organization is one that is able to sustain itself when confronted with change. In order to understand the necessity of future-proofing your organization, you need to consider the history of work and how the nature of the organization has responded to fundamental shifts in our society, politics, and economic and industrial models and thinking.

Roland notes that the genesis of the enterprise begins with the prehistoric communities that established the emotional basis for the organization as well as the nature of work – communal purpose. Since those primordial days of industry and organization and the advent of civilization and modern industry, we have seen dramatic shifts in the nature of the organization as well as work.

During the Renaissance period, we saw the nature of work take on an artisanal flavor with guilds building consortia and practices in arts and crafts such as masonry and shipbuilding. With the industrial revolution, the nature of work became increasingly narrow and granular as the division of labor and mass production dominated the industrial models and practices of the day.

Roland foresees a hybrid future ahead of us. As we continue to progress rapidly toward a digital economy, we are seeing technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence poised to free people of repetitive, mundane tasks while creating new possibilities for smaller communities to produce things that are more like art and craft using technologies such as CAD design, 3D printing, and to market and sell using social media and eCommerce marketplaces.

The 13 C’s of The Future-Proof Organization

What are the 13 C’s? A simple answer is they are an outcome of Roland’s experience working with leading organizations as they tackle the challenges of persistent and sometimes dramatic change. The 13 C’s are presented below:

13 Cs.png

The 13 C’s are not to be mistaken as mindsets, methodologies or practices, Roland stated. Rather they are thirteen interrelated organizational capabilities that are foundational to a future-proof organization.  As we discussed the details of the C’s, we were impressed with the depth of the framework and how it could be used as a set of principles to guide the development of mindsets, methods, and practices that garner organizational adaptability, agility, and innovativeness.

For example, the “Caring” capability is the ability of members of an organization to exhibit behaviors and actions of empathy and consideration that may be fostered by cultural values and practices.  Caring is important to a future-proof organization because it is important in nurturing curiosity and customer-centricity.  Without caring, members of the organization will not have concerns for others within and outside the organization.  Without caring and curiosity, customer-centricity is difficult to achieve as an organizational focus and priority, prompting one to ask the question – how do you get your organization to care?

What’s Next for The Organization?

According to Roland, the organization of the future will be an extended one with boundaries that blur into what was traditionally considered external to the organization. One of the reasons is the growing importance of ecosystems and the role of an organization within these extended networks of customers, partners, and co-opetitors.

Business leaders will increasingly need to lead not only within the organization but outside of the organization.  They will also need to be resourceful in managing networks beyond the organization in addition to managing the resources within the organization. Roland believes that we will transcend the idea of the organization as a legal entity or brand that an individual is associated with. Micro-organizations will form within and outside organizations that self-organize for a purpose and disappear once that purpose has been achieved and expired.

Implications for Business Leaders

With great and persistent industrial change comes great uncertainty.  Business leaders need to embrace uncertainty and confusion in order to lead future-proof organizations. This means rewiring the way you think and looking at situations with an adaptive lens.  Business leaders also need to extend their organization view to one of an ecosystem where the constantly morphing boundaries are spaces and opportunities for collaborative learning and engagement.  Most importantly, business leaders need to challenge traditional views and models of organization and can use the 13 C’s to identify the principles and practices needed to prepare their organizations to be sustainable in our digital future.

Roland Deiser is a Senior Drucker Fellow  and Founder and  Director of the Center for the Future of Organization at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.  He is also the Chairman of the Executive Corporate Learning Forum (ECLF) and the author of “Designing the Smart Organization” and “Transformers”. He can be reached at

neXCurve can help you and your team develop a continuous transformation strategy that can help you realize a future-proof organization and prepare your business for the digital future ahead of it.  Contact us for a complimentary consultation and an overview of our advisory and executive coaching services.

You can listen to the audio replay of our The Future-Proof Organization webcast by playing the media below or downloading the Podcast available on iTunes.  Subscribe to our Podcast channel and keep up to date on the latest insights from neXt Curve.

Presentation Materials

neXt Curve Future Proof Organization (PDF)

Audio replay of the Future of Work webcast

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