An organisation whose people have become so highly integrated, unified, and focused it functions at a higher level.
In the natural world, biologists call highly cooperative and integrated groups like beehives and ant colonies “superorganisms”. Although comprising individuals, it’s the ability of the group to act like a single organism that gives them the ecological upper hand.
In the corporate world, such highly cooperative and integrated groups are called superorganisations and they too outsmart, outperform and outlast their competition.
There are five distinct characteristics that differentiate superorganisations from all others.
There’s a crystal-clear view of why the organisation exists, beyond the pursuit of profit. It’s the reason the organisation truly matters to its customers which, above all else, determines its value. It is fundamental in creating a strong sense of meaning, setting direction and ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Everyone from the C-suite to frontline staff has the same view of the organisation and its place in the world. They have a common understanding not only of the work that matters, but why it matters as well. Rather than generating activity, individuals are focused on creating value and moving the organisation forward.
There’s a thorough understanding of organisational goals, and why they are worth pursuing. Furthermore, there’s a clear connection between individual roles and the organisation’s goals. Collaboration and mutual interdependence span the entire organisation resulting in a more efficient division of labour.
There’s a strong cultural identity, with common language, symbolism and stories ensuring individuals feel personally connected to the organisation. Their group affiliation is a core part of their identity: “I’m a Googler”; “I’m a Microsofty”. They feel as though they’re part of something bigger than themselves – it is their organisation; not just something that belongs to shareholders.
There’s a strong sense that everyone is mutually or reciprocally implicated in the success of the organisation – the organisation succeeds when they succeed and vice versa. People are empowered at every level of the organisation and trusted to act in the best interests of the organisation. Bound together, the organisation presents a united front, mobilising to achieve group-level goals.
“Along with the $1.4b acquisition of
MLC, our ideology was one of the most
pivotal things we did in 2020.”
– Renato Mota, CEO IOOF
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