Virtual OD by SYNNECTA – Go digital!

The digital world is a great source of new potential for organizations to foster a cultural change that is more democratic and more tuned into the future in order to address the challenges of an increasingly complex and dynamic world. In future, culture will be even more important in organizations. Culture fills gaps that cannot be bridged by structures and traditional processes alone.

Virtual organization development – Virtual OD by SYNNECTA – provides sustainable support to this aspect.

Cultural change aims to strengthen engagement, heighten performance, improve collaboration, make effective use of diversity and become more agile. It aims for the sustainable development of an organization. Only those organizations that engage in such continuous development will in the future be able to deal with change swiftly and appropriately and maintain long-term success.

Cultural change can take place from two directions

Approach 1: Central perspective – one guiding theme creates a pervasive common notion that is delivered ‘top down’ in order to integrate differences (different characteristics, metaphors, …). Further along, we see the development of islands that network self-sufficiently and influence the central pervasive message.

Approach 2: Synchronous-lateral perspectives – Useful aspects emerge automatically. Peripheral perspectives emerge laterally and enable the required multi-perspective viewpoint from the beginning. Resonance and successful action foster the emergence of new structures, which in turn resonate again and thereby reinforce each other (spiralling development) – self-sufficient organizing.
This is where Virtual OD by SYNNECTA opens up great opportunities.

Both approaches take place in conjunction in everyday Organizational Development, but are given different emphasis.

Employee community and identification with the organization serve as social glue. An organization’s strong core identity prevents it drifting apart. Communication within a continuous dialogue that provides emotional touchpoints is an essential guiding element here.

Organizational Development today: limits and challenges

Cultural transformations traditionally begin at the »centre«, meaning from an organization’s headquarters and spreading from this »epicentre« to other areas and through the entire organization in order to become »global«. The direction of change therefore goes from »central« to »local«.

In this process, thinking and acting come from the central perspective of the headquarters from the beginning. This means that the process is asymmetrical from the very start, with a decline from the centre to the periphery. Consequences can include:

  • Lack of identification in the peripheral areas that are not part of the centre.
  • Weaker acceptance and lacking commitment.
  • Difficulties guiding the transformation on global and international levels.
  • Varying depths of effect and speeds of implementation between centre and regions.
  • The differences between centre and regions stay in place and may even be reinforced or increased (insider/outsider thinking).
  • Important perspectives and potential from the periphery is not sufficiently included and utilized.

Successful cultural development always includes self-organized dynamics and therefore requires an approach »across the field« that departs from the notions of »top-down« and »bottom-up«, which reinforce a hierarchical mindset. The real force of renewal is therefore found in the periphery. The digital sphere provides an opportunity to strengthen or improve these aspects.

Digitalization can foster a new Organizational Development

Any organization essentially has the implicit knowledge to be sustainable for the future. However, it is often not understood how to explicitly use this knowledge. Virtual OD by SYNNECTA shifts the dynamics from central to local. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to leave to dominant notion of »top-down« and »bottom-up« behind. Organizational Development at eye level!

The three classic levers of Organizational Development are creating meaning, changing patterns and establishing commonalities. These three levers can be expanded by Virtual OD by SYNNECTA. It allows for the guiding theme to be disseminated with greater conviction (see approach 1), but even more importantly, to design self-sufficient organization more effectively (see approach 2).

The greater efficacy of virtual organizational development is mostly created by the following aspects:

  • Time and space are opened, so that simultaneous activity is possible and asymmetries are eliminated.
  • Synchronous and asynchronous events/communication/collaboration take place at a global level.
  • Fast and high degree of networking among people in the digital space.
  • The power of weak joints. Weak joints are the basis of prolific cooperation. Virtual OD by SYNNECTA uses the power of weak joints.
  • More outcome thanks to focussed collaboration.
  • A greater degree of self-sufficient organization, stronger interaction and involvement.
  • More effective dynamics permit themes to spread virally faster.
  • Creation of virtual communities (of practice).
  • Greater use of creative tension through multi-perspective working in the digital sphere (using diversity).

What moves you?

  • Remote work will stay with us!
  • How will the dominant position of the headquarters be reduced?
  • How do we achieve greater and more sustainable employee engagement?

Contact us!

The Return of the Crowd

The phenomenon of the crowd became the focus of theoretical thinking in the beginning of the last century. Beginning from Gustave Le Bon’s theories, Elias Canetti, Hermann Broch and Sigmund Freud were among those who addressed this new fact in politics and society. Even then, the crowd was already posited against a strong trend for individualism. Most writers on the topic are primarily concerned with crowds being directed by emotion, appearing unreasonable or even against reason. Canetti adopts a more ambivalent stance, as illustrated by this quote:

»There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown. (…) It is only in a crowd that man can become free of this fear of being touched.«

Being freed thus comes at a price: individuality and differentiation are wiped out.

The turn towards individualism was opposed by national-conservatives and later on especially by the Fascist movements. History had opened an opportunity to choose individual life designs, to live difference; that apparently roused that fear of the unknown that Canetti had addressed. When the NSDAP was elected in Germany, the liberal project of freedom was put to an end. Crowds gathering to be addressed, staged aesthetic productions visibly completed the process of de-individualization. This movement was supported by a new medium: it is unlikely to have been a coincidence that the mass medium radio was given the German name Volksempfänger – the people’s receiver.

How about now, in the early new twenties? A message to facebook, instagram or any other social network – a friendly automated answer: »thanks for sharing«. Whatever you may have individually or specifically said or wanted is irrelevant, your individual voice doesn’t count. The network won’t pay attention until you are part of a socially, economically or politically relevant cohort. The network won’t notice you, it will only notice the forming crowd. That is when it reacts: you are not there, you are only of interest as part of the crowd.

In contrast to their propaganda that social media provide a space for the expression of each individual, they are where we see the very opposite: a process of de-individualization. Only the crowd and its staged production is of relevance. Digitalization has become the tool of a development that endangers the hard path Europe walked to win individual freedom; it lets humans become a manipulatable crowd again. Like during the early decades of the last century, there is an opposition to the trend of a liberal, individualist outlook that is especially prevalent in the metropolitan regions, and this opposition is supported or even enabled by the technological potential of digitalization and social networks.

The system of social networks, whose community standards are guided mostly by conservative, evangelical and American »values«, is supported by a large network of informants. Posts abound with calls to report something or other that might contravene standards, which incidentally are quite vague. There is a depressing parallel to the block warden snooping in German cities and communities during the Nazi era. Back then, these standards were termed »good manners« or even »the people’s will«.

In the midst of this development, the naturally splintered, liberal and individualistically guided forces are helpless, for how can individualism be formed into a relevant crowd? In the democratic primaries, the more liberal candidates are not defeated by the crowd of right-wing conservatives, but are thwarted by their own voters, unable as they are to cover every single one of the highly diverse concerns.

The new twenties will be facing the task of teaching digitalization to do individualism, and it will be a great challenge to join together as a liberal community of individuals, finding a way out of a process of self-destruction.

Rüdiger Müngersdorff
Photo: Davide Ragusa by