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  • Writer's pictureNoreen Hynes

Agile Restructuring of Businesse Startups

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

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Agile Restructuring of Businesses

By Noreen Hynes May 3, 2023

The pace of technological developments in the past five years and to come will be the greatest and swiftest ever. They are changing the way we live, work, and play.

The changes are far more profound than the previous industrial revolutions because they will impact more people, markets, and industries. Opportunities abound because needs are increasing as more people become consumers. In some markets like Africa and India, millions of new consumers are coming onto the market using digital means to purchase. They are adopting very quickly to new technologies because they never used traditional ways of buying. Barriers are being removed in education because of digitization and access to internet services. Then add to this quantum computing, machine learning, the Internet of things, robotics, virtual reality (VR) smart devices, AI language translation, 3D printing, and 5 G., and you get even more significant changes and advancements. More people will have access to learning new skills, which is what will be required in the future. Skills more than what college degree you have will matter to employers. Many large global companies are adopting new technologies but are finding blockages because of labor shortages with the right skills to adopt new technologies. AI is replacing many thousands of jobs, but different skills are required, and companies need retraining programs in place if they want to retain their people.

New Technologies will impact business startups and Jobs in the next five years.

According to the World Economic Forum Report on the Future of Jobs 2023, "Employers anticipate a structural labor market churn of 23% of jobs in the next five years. This can be interpreted as an aggregate measure of disruption, constituting a mixture of emerging jobs added and declining jobs eliminated. Respondents to this year's Future of Jobs Survey expect a higher-than-average churn in the Supply Chain and Transportation and Media, Entertainment, and Sports industries and lower-than-average churn in Manufacturing and Retail and Wholesale of Consumer Goods. Of the 673 million jobs reflected in the dataset in this report, respondents expect structural job growth of 69 million jobs and a decline of 83 million jobs. This corresponds to a net decrease of 14 million jobs or 2% of current employment." These job losses are profound and will hurt many people, but many may retrain, re-skill, and reinter the jobs market or become self-employed. Employees and employers have to become more resilient and agile to thrive in the years ahead. Change is here now, and companies must introduce continuous education for their employees and coach them to become more flexible and adopt these new technologies. Employees will thrive if they embrace these new technologies rather than fear them.

What should Small and Medium Sized Companies and business startups be doing now

According to a report by the OECD on The Digital Transformation of SMEs long term, structural barriers remain to SMEs' adoption of new technologies.

"In addition to the need to access the right advice and inspiration, other structural barriers to digital adoption remain too, including: » 1. An internal skills gap that prevents managers and workers from identifying the digital solutions they need and adapting business models and processes; » 2. A financing gap, as SMEs, face difficulties accessing finance for intangible digital investments that cannot be easily used as collateral to secure a loan; » 3. An infrastructure gap. Access to high-speed broadband is a prerequisite for the digital transformation of SMEs. Penetration rates of high-speed broadband have been increasing in all OECD countries since 2011, but the leading countries and firms have been pulling away from the rest."

Many top global companies have already started transforming to adapt to new technologies. The fast pace of change challenges small and medium companies with smaller budgets. In this article, I focus on how they can adapt to changes by becoming more agile, creative, and entrepreneurial. Adapting to change means moving their hierarchical structures to more flat structures. Some companies will struggle with this, so they won't be able to make the changes quickly enough. Another issue is that the boards of many companies do not fully understand these new technologies and their transformation powers. There is a real need for boards to lead from the top and bring about the agile transformation of their companies. To do this, many companies need to recruit people with the right skills onto their boards and recruit external consultants with the right skills, such as Accenture, PWC, KPMG, EY, Deloitte, and Grant Thornton; check out The Top 25 Digital Transformation Consultants and Leaders of 2023 in this article. The top 25 digital transformation consultants and leaders of 2023. (2023, March 15). The Consulting Report | The Consulting Report is your comprehensive source for business news, investment activity, and corporate actions related to the software and SaaS sectors.

Companies large and small and business startups need IT experts who know and understand the new technologies and how to adapt them to businesses. These new technologies can assist companies with many facets of business, including market research, customer service, automating calls, responding to customer queries, analytics, automated sales funneling, post-sale support, surveys, recruitment, management information systems, auditing, analytics, advertising and marketing, website creation and copywriting, cloud computing to mention a few. That's only a tiny view of what AI will soon do, so it's time to educate ourselves on the transformational powers of this and other available technologies so we can benefit from them. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, but jobs will be invented, and education will change forever. According to Goldman Sachs, "Breakthroughs in generative artificial intelligence have the potential to bring about sweeping changes to the global economy, according to Goldman Sachs Research. As tools using advances in natural language processing work their way into businesses and society, they could drive a 7% (or almost $7 trillion) increase in global GDP and lift productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points over a 10-year period. A new wave of AI systems may also have a major impact on employment markets around the world. Shifts in workflows triggered by these advances could expose the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs to automation, Briggs and Kodnani write. In addition, jobs displaced by automation have historically been offset by the creation of new jobs, and the emergence of new occupations following technological innovations accounts for the vast majority of long-run employment growth, according to the report."

Companies need to change their culture and move their structures from hierarchical to flat, team-led structures to survive and prosper. This is not an easy management task, and external resources may be needed to facilitate swift change to an organization's culture and reporting structure. Companies and business startups will have to invest their profits in the future to stay competitive, and smaller companies will need to seek government support to help them with their transformation. They also need to prepare business plans justifying to banks and other funding sources how their digital transformation will benefit their bottom line.

How can mid-range companies and business startups develop a Sustainability, Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship culture (SCIEC)?

Many companies are restructuring their businesses to keep up with technology and keep ahead of the market. To develop a sustainable, creative, innovative entrepreneurship culture (SCIEC), a company must adopt sustainable development goals (SDGs) and incorporate them into its creative thinking. Preserving the planet is not enough; preserving its resources and environment is a more specific goal and should be broken down into its core message to understand it fully. Incorporating this into a structure of sustainable creative innovation is the way forward if we are to preserve our planet and its resources. Many company employees with a flair for innovation and entrepreneurship also like to have steady jobs with guaranteed pay while simultaneously developing their entrepreneurial talents. Companies need these employees to create new products and services so that the company can grow and prosper. It is a win-win for all concerned and will allow employees to be more creative and give them more job satisfaction. To create an organization's culture of sustainable, creative, innovative entrepreneurship (SCIE), start with the company mission and vision statement and state your intention. Developing a culture of entrepreneurship is not something that will happen overnight. You have to build it over time, and it needs to be part of the organization's fabric from the board of directors right down through the organization. Mentioning it in your mission and vision statement is not enough. It would help if you managed people in a certain way, encouraging them to be creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial. Managing outputs rather than through attendance, control, and command management style is essential. You have to give your employees autonomy to be creative, and they have to take ownership of the projects they develop and learn to work in teams drawn from different disciplines to bring their ideas to fruition. They must also deal with failure, be resilient, start again, and not be put off trying. Companies must accept failures and losses and coach their teams to manage them. The future manager has to be a coach and a manager, and they have to value people. The future leader has got to get people to want to follow them. Leadership is a rare commodity and is precious to an organization. Here are some pointers on creating the right culture for an entrepreneurial and creative organization.

1. State the company's intentions in the mission and vision statement and explain it to every employee during their induction. Walk the talk every day at all levels in the organization.

2. Incorporate a method of identifying those who want to develop as entrepreneurs and sustainable innovators at the recruitment stage.

3. Document a process for capturing all the ideas generated and make things easy for everyone involved to evaluate and progress with their ideas. You need clear instructions about submitting ideas and a format for documenting them. You need a process for planning, evaluating, tracking, and approving the projects. You need a system for preparing and approving business plans, which should be part of the evaluation process. You need a funding program, financial management system, and criteria around acceptable funding limits. You need the skills of a venture capital company to evaluate risk versus reward. The software system adopted to do this needs to make things easy for people to make progress and keep track of progress and outputs. Find a software system that can manage teams and track projects to help you develop this culture in the organization. There are software systems out there, such as Asana, Trello, Jira, and Zoho, so it is a case of preparing a specification and seeing which software system fits your needs best.

4. Appoint a Technology Manager who is familiar with new technologies and knows how to adapt them to the business.

5. Set Up a training program for those who want to be sustainable innovators and entrepreneurs and help employees develop leadership skills.

6. You need to organize the office space to be more functional than a space with open-plan desks. It needs to have collaborative spaces, break-out rooms, meeting rooms, places with desks, quiet rooms, and relaxation spaces. It needs to be a place where employees network among their colleagues, share ideas and work on their projects.

7. The company needs to be clear about its overall business targets, such as sales, profits, return on capital employed, and various other metrics—these need to be communicated to every manager/ coach and employee. Every person needs to understand what they have to achieve and when so that the company meets its top-line target numbers. They need to know that their customers come first and that they must juggle their entrepreneurial projects and daily work in the company. This is part of what an entrepreneur does every day, and it's a good learning ground for employees who want to build resilience and progress.

8. Set up metrics that measure productivity and growth in the company and break them down by division, manager, team leaders, and employees.

9. Set up an employee review process so each manager/ coach meets employees regularly and discusses progress with them. These should be two-way meetings, with the company learning from employees and the other way around. Document the outputs from these meetings for follow-up purposes. Data collection and analysis could be done using artificial intelligence to save time. Data is a waste of time if misused, so the outputs from these meetings should result in actions at all company levels.

10. Managers working with employees involved in sustainable, creative, innovative entrepreneurship (SCIE) programs should manage the workloads allocated to them so they are not overloaded and burnt out. They need to behave like coach managers.

11. There needs to be full-time core staff working on SCIE projects, ensuring they are progressing according to plan and working alongside the part-time owners of the projects and their teams. The full-time staff would-be coaches and managers trained explicitly in managing creatives and getting results.

12. You need to set up a company knowledge platform to capture and manage all the knowledge built from the innovation and entrepreneurial efforts and a project management system for managing and implementing them.

13. Access to IT systems used for SCIE programs need to be restricted to those involved. Everyone signing up for the program must understand that the system contains valuable company data that is valuable to the company.

14. Employees involved in SCIE projects should be trained to prepare patent applications and file them on behalf of the company. This helps the company garner value from all the research work carried out on its projects and enables it to place a value on them on its Balance Sheet.

15. Project participants should know when to seek assistance for their projects from outside sources, such as independent research labs that can assist them with designing and building their inventions. They may also work with partners such as customers, suppliers, consultancy companies, and universities, using collaboration agreements to cover legal matters and protect the company's IP.

16. Everyone involved in these projects must sign agreements stating that all the ideas discussed and documented belong to the company exclusively. All the IPs and patents belong to the company. This could be incorporated into their employment contract at the recruitment stage.

17. There needs to be a generous reward system that incentivizes those involved to progress with their ideas. This could be by way of company shares, financial bonuses based on specific criteria, or both. Entrepreneurs are most likely drawn to the concept of shares and financial bonuses.

18. Create a great employee handbook with a section on the SCIE program. Include everything an employee needs to know, including all the systems and processes required to do their job better.

19. Choose the best IT systems to run your business and facilitate the SCIE program.

20. Democratize data analytics in your organization, make it available to all who need it, and ensure employees know how to use available tools. That could be a game changer for your organization. Check out the Analytics Institute for more information on this subject and drive value from data for your organization. Using and analyzing analytics is valuable for companies because consumer habits change as more technologies come into use.

21. Choose people with the right skills to evaluate ideas and document the outputs for further research, implementation, or ceasing the project. People can learn much from abandoned projects and germinate bigger and better ideas later, so they must be kept on the knowledge-based platform for future research.

22. Let the person with the idea choose their team. It needs to be stipulated in the systems and processes that there needs to be a team member with financial skills who can evaluate the financial implications and prepare a business plan. Training people in SCIE will teach them how to put the right teams together with the right skills, which is critical to success.

23. Employ an employee coach to work with employees to clear obstacles and help them be their best. The pace of work has accelerated a lot since the introduction of emails and technological advancements in areas such as AI and machine learning, and there is more to come. Companies must support employees because of the faster working pace and help them cope with the changes.

24. Teach your project teams how to turn a research project into a commercial project with all the necessary steps to understand how a project or service that starts in a laboratory can eventually end up being sold at a profit and be scaled for growth, thus closing the loop.

25. Showcase the projects developed yearly and credit the project teams. Not all companies will benefit from this entrepreneurial approach, but many companies will. There have never been so many technological products converging simultaneously in the market, which brings more opportunities.

We know that artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), machine learning (ML), quantum computers, quantum Internet, web3, the metaverse, and several other new developments, such as blockchain technology, are here and coming on stream daily. Some are in operation now, giving companies a competitive edge. Delaying innovation is not an option for companies that want to be ahead of the curve. It is a challenge for boards and top executives to understand these technologies, so they should consider bringing new board members with this knowledge on board. They also need to recruit a Transformational Expert who can brief them on what technologies will help the company in the future. They need to take time away from the boardroom and desks, attend seminars about these technologies and their uses, and see how they can be applied to their businesses. This is a creative process, so it is advisable to undertake it with outside specialist help.

Consumers have been very quick to adapt to changes, especially young people. When recruiting people in the future, companies must consider all of the above and prepare a profile of the different skill sets they need and the types of employees they need to fill new roles they develop to implement change. For a company that has run on a command and control management style for decades to change to autonomy and entrepreneurship, a change management program needs to be introduced with a team of trained experts working alongside management, as explained above. CEOs of the future and boards of directors will require different skill sets, and boards of directors need to recognize that. Change is here, and boards of directors need to look at the human resources and the technology they have versus what they need in the future. To do that, they need assistance from top innovative consultancy companies to help them make necessary changes. Some companies will need to be reorganized bottom up to implement necessary changes. Some companies may set up a different subsidiary to develop new projects and recruit people with the necessary skills. This might bring about change more quickly than trying to change a structure that has been there for decades, involving time and resources to change. While this new innovative company is succeeding with change, the leading company could quietly make the changes over a more extended period. The important thing is for companies to accept that they must change to survive and prosper. When setting up a new business, ask yourself how you should start, what technology you should use, and what skill sets your co-founders and employees should have. Thinking about this from the start would be best because your competitors are doing it now. Business startup entrepreneurs now have an excellent opportunity to excel by adopting new technologies.

Check out Start-up Checklist for Success, The Essentials You Need To Know, which is available on Amazon,

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