The rise of the decentralised business

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By Catherine Muller, HR Manager at Obsidian Systems

Even though the concept of a decentralised organisation is not new, it has gained fresh momentum in a post-pandemic world where decision-makers must avoid the temptation of returning to the old way of thinking. This necessitates an immediate overhaul of leadership and leadership techniques where the focus moves to empowering employees.

A good example of this is asking their opinion more often and have them contribute to the decision-making process. In this way, the company can create a sense of community where it is easier to get buy-in for strategic decisions. Making people aware of the considerations behind a decision, gives them new understanding into processes that are usually managed behind closed doors.

This sees employees becoming more invested in the organisation and therefore more concerned about its success or failure. Of course, shifting to this decentralised way of running a business requires strong, independent thinking and passionate leaders who are willing to inspire, nurture, and upskill their staff.

Unlike in the past, the distributed organisation does not hold on to information. Sharing this with employees makes it easier for executives to provide new responsibilities to workers who may previously have gotten lost in the processes. Employees can therefore start taking more responsibility for their own decisions and actions without fear of getting on the wrong side of their managers.

Changing environment

Even so, the distributed business must ensure it implements the necessary security measures to ensure company information is not leaked. A hybrid working environment requires cybersecurity to be a priority. This extends to best practices with employees needing to understand what their responsibilities are.

For instance, if they are on a Zoom call in a coffee shop, they must refrain from discussing sensitive company information. This must be avoided altogether with them leaving their calls for when they are in their home office.

Becoming a distributed organisation means people can start making decisions at much lower levels. This is especially important for those who are customer-facing and understand their pain points. These employees are instrumental in helping build customer-centric solutions and providing input into the design aspects of a product.

A distributed business also eliminates bureaucracy and mitigates against the risk of having a traditional structure in place where the company cannot react quickly enough to market changes.

Jira makes work flow

The building blocks of transforming into a distributed organisation lies in observability and transparency across the organisation. The tools make it easier to document the outcomes, share the load and allow teams to collaborate. A word of caution, the tools cannot replace the value of the conversations and the importance of communication.

In practical terms this can translate to giving employees self-service tools to manage their own workflows through agreed processes. There is no longer the need for executives to micro-manage as progress with all the checks and balances is integrated into the entire process.

TACO it out

Technical teams who are dealing with complexity of their IT environments are also demanding tools for managing hybrid IT models in decentralised organisations.

The building blocks of transforming into a distributed organisation lies in a testing, automation, compliance, and observability (TACO) way of thinking. This relates directly to how the organisation is reacting to external influences.

Technological influence

Despite the potential business benefits, many companies are still entrenched in red tape and finding it difficult to change their mindset. As they adjust and try new things, they are starting to experiment with different ideas to find a good fit.

Using modern technology as a foundation, they can iterate faster but still need to ensure it delivers the business returns they need before blindly rolling out new environments.

Ultimately, organisations have no choice but to globalise and digitise for the modern world. It has become a global market. Local companies must be willing to embrace these new markets and the opportunities they provide. But to do so effectively, they must modernise to become a distributed organisation.