The Journey from Traditional to Futurist: Navigating Culture Transformation

June 12, 2024 Jamie Notter

Leadership and management is in the middle of a revolution, as traditional management is giving way to what most call the “future of work.” This has been going on for the last couple of decades (we first wrote about it in Humanize, back in 2011). This journey involves moving away from established command-and-control management styles perfected during the Industrial Revolution, and moving towards models that place humans at the center. Futurist cultures are characterized by flexibility, innovation, transparency, and agility. They embrace risks, acknowledge mistakes as growth opportunities, and leverage technologies not just for the sake of having the latest tools, but as integral elements that drive organizational success.

Through the WorkXO culture assessment, we have learned that “average” organization is definitely on the path toward becoming more futuristic in their approach, but is not quite there. On our five-point scale, “futurist” is marked by a score of 4.0 or higher, and the average of the 1.2 million data points we have so far is 3.69. Most of us are not traditional any more (less than 3.0), and we are leaning towards the futurist end, but we’re still short of the mark. Management is evolving, but it has yet to be transformed.

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Of course, the amount of transformation you need may vary. You must make a strategic assessment of which areas your organization must push towards the futurist end of the spectrum, in order to thrive in your specific context. A software company, for example, should expect to routinely take risks in its pursuit of innovation (more futurist), where a nuclear power plant, we hope, would be more risk averse (more traditional). The key lies in discerning which cultural aspects to evolve, based on both internal goals and the external market landscape.

Navigating this transformation requires an honest assessment of current cultural patterns, a commitment to addressing competing commitments that may hinder progress, and an adaptable mindset that embraces both the challenges and opportunities that come with cultural evolution. By understanding where they currently stand and where they need to go, organizations can chart a course towards a more futurist culture that not only aligns with the future of work but also fosters a more engaging, innovative, and productive workplace in their unique context. For more on how to do this, check out our new book, Culture Change Made Easy.

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Jamie Notter

Jamie is a co-founder and culture strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders create amazing workplace cultures that drive greater performance and impact. He brings thirty years of experience to his work designing and managing culture, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is the co-author of four popular business books, including the award-winning Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement, and his fall 2023 release, Culture Change Made Easy. He holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.