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Published by John M. Read
This article describes the skills and attitudes required when working for organizations of the 21st Century. In the new Millenium organizations call for different sets to those more traditional organisations.
This article describes the skills and attitudes required when working for organizations of the 21st Century. In the new Millenium organizations call for different sets to those more traditional organisations.

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Published by: John M. Read on Nov 08, 2008
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hat Career Next!
Career Changeand Placement Specialists
 NEW CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS:21ST CENTURY CORPORATIONSEveryone knows the Industrial revolution was the frontier of the old economy. Asset heavycompanies with trades based occupations managed by lumbering bureaucracy reflectingTaylor and Weber’s management ideas. Now, we have the Internet. The new frontier of the New Economy. Let’s review theimpact and requirements for success in the 21st Century Corporation.Traditional values in the old economy: - loyalty, stability, incremental changes, andcompartmentalisation. These have been replaced by a different mind-set in the neweconomy - employability, instability, dynamic changes, increasing borderless business.Trading exchange principles are everywhere now: between employer and employee, between company and partners, between businesses and their customers. The marketeconomy has entered every dimension of business, creating new markets everywhere thatthe company must excel in to succeed.Leadership in the old economy was hierarchical, seniority based and top down. In Asianmanagement circles, this remains the order of business. Yet there are new drivers in thenew economy: better relationships with staff, customers and business partners. This is amajor frontier of business development in the new economy. Changes in leadership styleand performance are under pressure as markets separate who can manage their intellectualcapital better. [See table 1 for a summary of these factors]Knowledge management in the old economy meant individual knowledge translated intoindividual power, sharing knowledge was always incomplete. Companies routinely loseknowledge as they lose employees from retrenchment or retirement.In the new economy, now team knowledge is more important, sharing knowledge isenhanced by knowledge sharing systems, across physical boundaries. Specialised individualknowledge is still power, but only when it can be shared and applied. Today’s knowledgefrontier involves conversion of tacit knowledge (experience based) into explicit knowledge(published or retrievable knowledge) using supporting technology. Even doing oralhistories can be a useful tool to record existing intellectual capital. However, in the next economy, creating new knowledge will become the cutting edge of competitive advantage. Companies will only survive by creating their own knowledge, aconstantly renewable and time-sensitive resource; intellectual capital is the growth engineof the 21st Century Economy. Consider the mind set, systems and management practicesneeded to develop intellectual capital. I suggest that companies may wish to consider doing an intellectual capital audit to identify key KSAO's in their company. I will take asafe bet that much of it resides at the lowest rungs in the company, or even outside of thecompany. Doing such a survey should embrace all of the partners to the business:customers, suppliers and partners.In the next economy: tying customers and suppliers into the company via knowledgemanagement systems will allow customers to participate in the initiation & development of new ideas (new demands) and new knowledge within the company.
The New Economy Company conceives of itself as including customer and supplier bases.To realise this means developing systems and processes that permanently ties andcontinuously develops customer relationships. These relationships are crucial in creatingongoing shareholder value.Consider the shape of the 21st century corporation: currently the web is the new frontier for business development, enabled through new strategic alliances between businesses. Thestructure of these companies is still tending towards hierarchy. Many continue to argue for this approach at the micro level. However, on the macro scale, the linking of staff intoteams, of businesses into strategic partnerships and with suppliers and distribution chainssuggests a network is a better model for the New Corporation. Linking businesses andcustomers into value-creating & consuming chains implies a web like structure as the new business model for the 21st century. Tying together a common set of mission, vision andvalues across traditional boundaries will be the next frontier for organisationaldevelopment.Managing knowledge is the current big thing, but creating new knowledge, building andsustaining new relationships and growing intellectual capital is the requirement for the nextcentury. Companies that fail to pay attention to their intellectual capital, fail to encourageand enable new ideas in their companies are holding back their own development, in aglobal marketplace with increasing competition this is a strategy for decline.Distinguishing technology options by their ‘media richness’ will help manager recognisetheir ideal application to support intellectual capital mining. From ‘dry as bone’ email,through telephone contact (call centre driven surveys are example here) to face to facecontact, allows the new company to offer its client segments appropriate linkingmechanisms to connect them into your organisation. Competitive advantage is not created with physical assets, this is old economy thinking.Competitive advantage is made now from identifying and leveraging intellectual capital -the knowledge of the workforce and of customers and partners to the business. This is adifficult concept to practice in Asia: traditions suggest the importance of hierarchy andsome lack of faith in lower level staff as a source of intellectual capital. Yet doing anintellectual capital audit may help to identify the wellsprings of knowledge within andoutside the traditional boundaries that are really sustaining competitive knowledgeadvantage for the company.In the 21st Century Corporation, outsourcing will have many new shapes. Localoutsourcing alone is no longer an appropriate boundary. Technology and supportinginfrastructure especially logistics, enables customers to be served where they are, removingsome of the traditional links between producer and consumer. Outsourcing can now bedone anywhere, with non-core functions, indeed even with specified steps in a product or service provision and still be delivered to the customer where they are, when they want it.The 21st century organisation will be a learning organisation [see table two below]. Wehave just begun to scope some of the important areas of creativity and knowledgemanagement that the 21st Century Corporation will have to learn. Creativity is thehallmark of successful intellectual capital management. Creating new knowledge, drawingit from internal and external sources will be essential for company renewal and survival inthe 21st Century.
Creating a learning culture in the company requires traditional Asian values to undergoadaptation values to meet the new economy. Listening skills will become ever moreimportant: listening to customers, listening to feedback and new ideas from front-line staff,and listening to and support new business ideas will be the ‘cashflow’ of the new centurycompany.Economics suggests that customers are always looking for new and better ways of meetingtheir needs. In addition, they will balance convenience with price. 21st CenturyCorporations can keep in tune with these needs by revaluing employees, integratingcustomers and building better market relationships with all of their partners in thecompany. Like a good web site, the quality and degree of stickiness of these relationshipsis another important new frontier of the 21st Century Corporation.John M. ReadCertified International Job & Career Transition CoachManaging ConsultantWhat Career Next!
Registered in Singapore
career@magix.com.sgTel: 354 3551
Byrne, J. Management by the Web. In “The 21st Century Corporation – TheGreat Transformation”, published in BusinessWeek, August 21-28, 2000, p.84-96,McGraw-Hill Companies, USA
Harrison, R.T. & Leitch, C.M. (2000) Learning & Organisation in theKnowledge-Based Information Economy: Initial Finfings from a ParticipatoryAction Research Case Study. British Journal of Management, Vol. 11, 103-119,UK.

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