Fluidity: A New Organizational Literacy For Leaders

Fluid is often seen as the antithesis of permanence. When released from the confines of the predictable, it spills out in very unpredictable and nonlinear ways. Flowing from compliance to creativity, encompassing all that it comes in contact with as its borders expand and capacity is stretched.

Today’s individuals and organizations must have the ability and agility to make and remake themselves on an ongoing basis. We need to have much more fluid foundations. And while organizations and individuals must have deep knowledge in what they have been created or hired to do, that no longer serves as the ceiling, as much as it serves as the door.

Today’s organizations and individuals must be able move past the idea of depth, and learn and pull from an ever-widening width of resources. One trick pony experts will not have the breadth of resources to substantially keep pace with the level of information and learning that is now being created in our modern world. Both individuals and organizations must have the agility and ability to evolve themselves on an ongoing and ever-fluid basis. It is a current reality for relevance.

And it is not just fluidity as a new literacy for our individuals and organizations, it affects our teams, our leadership, our hierarchies, as well as our structures, processes and systems. We talk a lot about moving from silos to more collaborative environments, but still find ourselves siloed and boxed in to static structures and hierarchies that limit our willingness to better engage the talent, knowledge and capacity of those within our organizations. Our willingness to become more fluid is often contained and controlled by organizational structures, processes and systems that limit a more fluid approach that will enable us to push beyond current organizational borders and permanence.

This work will require organizations to equip their leaders with a more creative and innovative mindset, if we are to engage this landscape in a more fluid manner. If we are to better allow our organizations to grow and utilize the talent and knowledge that is already within. We still find that too many organization are more than happy to incorporate outside expertise than engage and grow the capacity of those within.

Fluidity requires a new kind of leadership mindset and organizational stance that better prepares our organizations to not only tap into the capacity that lies within, but pivot and shift to meet the demands of an exponentially shifting and changing world.

Fluidity allows leaders and organizations the opportunity to invest in the processes and systems that move against the ingrained nature of organizations to ground themselves in permanence, stasis and status quo. It allows us recreate and remake not only our perceptions of current organizational capacity, but how to push and move beyond those boundaries in a more constant, routine, daily manner.

But this idea of fluidity requires that organizations and leaders understand, when you unbottle it, it tends to flow out in often unexpected and unpredictable ways. Both organizations and their leaders will have to get used to this, which strikes against the predictable, linear and risk-free environments that we try so hard to create. In order to have this fluidity, to better engage the creative and innovative spirit of our individuals and organizations, we have to be willing to spend time suspended in the uncertainty and ambiguity that accompanies this process and work.

But willingness to do this will not only improve the capacity of our individuals and organizations, it will lead to the experimental and discovery learning that will drive us to deeper and better work.

“It is not the absence of hierarchy or the uniformity of decision-making authority that makes an organization fluid. It is the ability to shift and morph those things in the service of accomplishing more.”  -Jamie Notter When Millenials Take Over: Preparing For The Ridiculously Optimistic Future Of Business

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