Be water. Liquid organizations and their benefits in changing environments

Businesses are having to adapt to hugely changing environments that are putting their capacity for adjustment to the test. This scenario has given rise to liquid organisations that are capable of swiftly embracing the changes required in each case.

The concept of liquid organization stems from the broader notion of liquid modernity, coined by the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman to explain today’s world as a chaotic continuation of modernity, where an individual may change from one social position to another in a fluid and ongoing manner, which leads to a feeling of uncertainty and disengagement. Forgetting for a moment the pessimistic approach that gave rise to the definition of liquid modernity, this concept has been embraced by the corporate world to describe organizations whose principal hallmark is the ability to adapt to the changes that are constantly occurring in a specific environment.

Yet what are liquid organizations? They are those capable of quickly reinventing themselves to adopt a new shape, just as a liquid fits the contours of its container. Commonly linked to dynamic methodologies, liquid organizations respond to the need to create teams that know how to modify their role within the company to support customers over the course of time.

Liquid organizations are those capable of quickly reinventing themselves to adopt a new shape, just as a liquid fits the contours of its container.

A liquid organization will enable us to fully exploit our growth potential, providing a vast capacity for adapting to new realities thanks to the possibility of recruiting new members, whose induction process will be brief because of the talent that the company already possesses. Organizations of this nature may focus on short-term results while upholding a medium-term strategic vision.

Creating a liquid organization

The team’s composition should focus on its members’ capabilities and soft skills. A balance has to be struck between the most specialized profiles and those of a more mainstream nature. The team members’ ability to accept changes and tackle new challenges will also be crucial.

The company’s goals need to be very clear in order to integrate new areas of work quickly and ensure the overall business pursues its main remit and serves a common purpose.

Communication and coordination across the different departments and teams are essential for keeping staff focused on strategic goals, over and above the specific duties they perform at any given moment.

Advantages of liquid organizations

A liquid organization is not an assurance of success, but it does have major advantages.

It makes it easier to adapt resources to the company’s requirements. This type of organization can deal rapidly with growth because its team members with experience in the company can act as a unifying force whenever there is a need to adapt to a new situation.

It provides all the company’s employees with development opportunities. At any given moment, the role of certain team members may vary, combining the company’s needs with their own capabilities, which constitutes a major magnet for new talent.

It renders organizations more sustainable in the long run. Profiles can adapt to specific needs at each stage of the project. In the case of software engineering, this means that during the development stage teams can dedicate themselves fully to software engineering, and then realign themselves so that some members can become involved in consultancy and technical support once the software is up and running.

It drives innovation. Its flexible structure allows sharing knowledge and ideas across different departments, promoting creative ideas.

It fosters cooperation. Teams can be shuffled, leading to a more in-depth understanding among the sundry members of different teams, which will lead to closer cooperation and support thanks to the creation of a communal mindset.

Liquid organizations and software engineering

According to Conway’s law, software mirrors the structure of the companies that develop it. This adage confirms a reality: those businesses with very rigid and compartmentalized structures tend to design systems that reflect that inflexibility. The mindful adoption of a liquid organization, therefore, avoids these kinds of restrictions when developing software, as its teams do not encounter barriers between the various functional areas and can design the systems through a holistic approach.

Software is constantly evolving, so an organization of this type is even more pertinent in this industry than in other less dynamic ones. Not only that, the change in the weighting of the tasks that need to be performed at each moment supports the case for these kinds of organizations, which know how to maintain a long-term relationship with their members, regardless of the present stage of development.

Yet these organizations are not environments that will suit all kinds of employees. The constant changes require a positive attitude towards a challenge, as well as a commitment to teamwork to be able to adapt in each case to new scenarios.

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