Modern Organizations of the 21st Century

In his book the “The Alliance” , Reid Hoffman advises employers to stop thinking of employees as family and free agents, and instead think of them as partners, allies, on a time bounded journey, a tour of duty as he calls it.

This insightful view of the relation between employer and employee successfully captures the dynamics of organizations in the age of the unicorn and camel, and no where are those dynamics more clear than the tech industry; a market where the demand for talent is extremely high and the supply of talent is quite the opposite, extremely limited.

Such challenge -Along with all the rest of the challenges- requires a new thinking model, one that not only caters for business value but also caters for the individual needs of talents; its not only a matter of finding the right talent to hire, but also a matter of keeping them onboard, continuously challenging them and adding to their lives.

But this is easier said than done…

Its complicated, you have to understand that, not one model fits all, after all, us humans when we organize in groups, we tend to create cultures, processes and patterns of communication that are usually unique to that specific group.

From the smallest group, a family, to the bigger ones like companies, religions, countries, ethnicities,… etc., each group tend to have its own “thing(s)”, that “thing” is usually attributed to the different complexities in the surroundings of the group, and this explains why some “thing” works with some groups and doesn’t with another.

If we’re truly to understand why a group does what it does, and possibly influence them towards something else, or add to their culture, we must first learn the levers available to us, and understand the nature of the environment that made that group what it is.

The key is understanding

A very popular quote in management is “You can’t manage/improve/influence what you can’t measure”, and this statement holds true in several ways. It also applies in the case of forming cultures and organizations that successfully achieves whats expected from them.

An organization is but a group of people, aligned towards common goals. The combination of efforts of that group of people amounts to the achievement of the common goals or not. Within the organization, smaller pockets of people exist and work in tandem towards the success of both the individual and the group.

It’s in that sense that an organization looks exactly like a System, and it only stands to reason that the same principles of systems thinking would apply when designing, structuring and transforming an organization.

Its all about structure and relations

Now double back to “The Alliance”, what Reid Hoffman and his co-authors describes is a way of reforming the traditional relation and structure of organizations.

Just like a system, the success or failure of an organization is a function of structure and relations within the organization; organize individuals in an effective structure and build win-win relations between them, and you’ve got your self an effective system.

This is in no way new, but the radical divergence from the traditional is the individual.

We work to live, not live to work

Unlike most of human history, today we’ve built very effective societies (compared to earlier epochs) that have transformed work from a means to survive, to a means to happiness.

Modern, advanced societies have enabled us to transcend Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and start to long for more than just food on the table.

This by its own meant that highly skilled workers today consider their place of work quite differently than their counterparts in the early turn of the 20th century.

A place to realize dreams

Given that food and safety have been guaranteed, the place of work today is considered as the place to realize the individual’s dreams, whether that be wealth, fulfillment, status, or self-actualisation.

This is but a clear observation from the continuous endeavor to achieve work-life balance, something that Rutger Bregman discusses at length in his book “Utopia for Realists” where he explains how the modern challenge for humanity have shifted from the lack of wealth, to the abundance of wealth but lack of time to enjoy it.

Today, most of us work to achieve happiness, in one way or another, everyone has their motivations and dreams, and at any point in time believe that their current place of work brings them closer to those dreams.


With this key learning, we can look at individuals as snowflakes; no one is like the other, each with their aspirations, goals and dreams, and the only way to go about building a truly successful organization is by building the right structure and relation that nurtures those differences.

The role of leaders and managers at this point is completely different, no longer is it just about getting things done, or drawing plans and strategies, but its also about building “alliances” and recognizing the opportunities within the organization that maximizes the profits of those alliances for the business and the individuals.

As an employee, your relation with your manager is one of a partnership, you want them to help you realize your dreams and aspirations, to mentor and guide you to your next step.

It’s only by considering those variables, that we can truly build modern organizations that continue to achieve what was previously thought impossible.