Any organisation wanting to be world class in the near future needs action, visionary and purposeful leadership allied to trustworthy, value-adding employees. The world-class organisation of the future must focus on developing its people and the environment in which they work. The concept of the ‘learning organisation’, which strives continually to develop its people and processes will be an accepted philosophy of all competitive organisations in the future.
The next step is for organisations to develop not only their current employees, but also the next generation of employees, through improvements in general social and environmental conditions. Total quality management (TQM), business process reengineering (BPR) and other schemes to improve productivity may not be a source of competitive advantage in the future, but a minimum entry standard to compete in the global market. These currently fashionable tools and techniques will not provide the essential elements for the survival of any business beyond the year 2005.
The companies that will prosper and gain a competitive advantage are those that are now developing their leadership and people into a trust based learning organisation and actively shaping their local setting and the trans-national marketplace. The future of business lies in visionary, transforming leadership that can balance the opportunities created by rapid technological change and the demands imposed by the need to rely on highly skilled and more independent workers.
Organisational leaders will have to excise Tayloristic approaches to organisational control and replace them with a model based on competence, loyalty and trustworthiness. This approach provides a stimulating contrast to, for example those advocates of activity-based costing (ABC) based approaches who essentially hold that all that is required is more accurate accounting figures, especially in relation to product costs, and the balanced scorecard proponents who demonstrate a similar all-pervasive faith in the miraculous powers of more inclusive ranges of performance criteria.
World-class organisations in the new millennium will have to focus outwardly and involve their suppliers and customers in a strategic alliance that accepts social and environmental responsibilities, thereby maintaining a cohesive, positive society and producing the best possible conditions for business growth.
Organisations of the future will not be able to expand into new markets and win market share without entrusting their employees with the purposeful use of the organisation’s resources. The organisation that is socially and environmentally responsible and attracts the most valuable knowledge workers will gain a competitive advantage by winning business from other less responsible and less trusting organisations.