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HR Continuum

Aristotle said, “the whole is more than the sum of its parts” and it is certainly true when it comes to organisations where people align themselves to row together in the same direction to achieve that common goal of the organisation. Thus, Human Resource Management is considered to be of strategic importance for organisations to create required synergy for organising parts into a whole structure for organisational growth. HRM is undergoing a lot of changes, as some of the factors such as advancement in globalisation, changing technologies create huge impact on the way traditional HRM processes were carried out. Indian organisations are also witnessing change in systems, management cultures and philosophy due to such factors. Role of HRM is becoming all the more important and challenging. A role of a HR manager is shifting from that of a protector and a screener to that of a Planner, Innovator and Change Agent.
Human Resources Continuum was organized on 03rd August 2013 with a theme reflecting on one such challenge facing the HR managers.

“Developing Non-Hierarchical Leadership: From Command to Collaborate”

Following luminaries participated for delivering lectures at HR Continuum 2013 on August 3th, 2013 at SJMSOM, IIT Bombay:
Whether it is collaborative practices or innovative drive, unconventionality has been the one driving factor that has enabled organizations to tear away from the pack and surge ahead towards sustainable growth. The art of articulating these unconventional practices and ensuring clarity of vision in the face of challenges is the stepping stone for business success. But choosing these practices such that it fits the organisation’s strategy as well as culture is also very important. Conventional Leadership structure has played an important part in creating order and in achieving some outstanding results in the past. However, its ability to handle the speed and diversity of change being encountered currently and certainly in the future is being questioned by many of the best leaders in business as well as in academia. Non-Hierarchical Leadership is said to be the unconventional practice that could replace the conventional leadership structure of the organisation. The contributions of a collaborative workforce could provide wonders for the organisation whereas silo mentality of top-down hierarchy could bring the organisation down in this tough competitive environment. But, many of the globally accepted best practices have failed on implementation in any large organisations in the world. Thus, change from conventional leadership to non-hierarchical leadership imposes a lot of challenges to organisations that adopt this change.

The industry stalwarts who participated in the event, delivered useful insights by sharing their knowledge and experience not only on the theme but also on the below sub-themes of the event

  • Non-hierarchical Leadership Vs. Hierarchical Leadership
  • Non-hierarchical leadership structure is said to have many advantages over the conventional counterpart but this type of leadership structure may not always ensure the growth of organisations. As we all know, it must also be a strategic as well as cultural fit to the organisation for proving to be a success. Hierarchical structures are based upon well-defined functions and divisions of the organisation whereas Non-hierarchical might bring in complexity by trying to combine functional and divisional aspects in order to flatten the structure. The rigidity of hierarchy might be well suited for some businesses and bringing down that rigidity through non-hierarchical leadership might create havoc. Though such issues can be addressed, there is always a possibility of going down a pit fall.

  • Benefits of Non-Hierarchical Organisations
  • Most of the market leaders benefit from quick decisions taken that that helped them to surge ahead of their competitors. This is one of the major advantages of having a non-hierarchical organisational structure. Especially in today’s converging world of business quick decision making, flexibility for quicker reaction, innovation are some of the factors that help organisations get past their competitors. These vital abilities can be incorporated in organisations through non-hierarchical leadership.

  • Keeping Control in Non-hierarchical organisations: Pitfalls of Non-Hierarchical Organisation
  • Flatter organisations are evolving in the current globalised business scenario because of several advantages. However, Non-Hierarchical organisations have several pitfalls as well. While a hierarchical organisation can lead to silo mentality, non-hierarchical organisations can be affected by herd mentality, implementation in flatter organisation may be difficult because of the high number of stakeholders to convince. These are few examples of potential pitfalls of non-hierarchical organisation. While building up non-hierarchical structure factors like trust holds importance in addressing these issues.

  • Role of IT and Social Media in building Non-hierarchical organisation
  • Non-hierarchical organisations are all about collaboration. In modern era of Information technology, effective communication is one of the ways of achieving collaboration. IT has enabled peer-to-peer new communication, bottom-up communication and much more which helps collaborative decision making, sharing of new ideas etc. These IT systems should be weaved into the functions and divisions of the organisation instead of acting in isolation. Information Technology in the form of social media has changes the way how people work together. Newer technologies like mobile computing have further more increased the proliferation of social media in today’s organisation.

  • Disintegration of Command & Control for Emergence of Connect & Collaborate
  • Building a non-hierarchical leadership into an organisation that has followed hierarchical leadership will be the most challenging task. From the design phase to implementation phase and there after effective monitoring of the implementation is a daunting task. However, many organisations have successfully done this in the near past and some organisations have taken steps towards this. The cultural change that such organisations have undergone has benefitted them hugely but the process behind such change is always a difficult path to tread upon.

  • Impact of Nature of the industry, market and organisation in shaping non-hierarchical leadership
  • It is often said that non-hierarchical leadership is best suited for relatively small and new organisations. But that might not be the case always. The size of the firm, the nature of the industry, growth stage of the business, the market are some fo the factors that deeply affect decisions regarding building non-hierarchical leadership into the organisation. Do these factors really have an impact on building non-hierarchical leadership? If so, are there any possibilities to overcome the barriers posted by these factors for building non-hierarchical leadership? What are the trade-offs involved while overcoming such barriers?

      Panel Discussion

        The event also had a panel discussion on the topic

“Hierarchical Leadership - An Enduring Relic or A Business Necessity?”

        Many benefits of non-hierarchical leadership structure are known to the business leaders around the world. But, still many 
        organisations have not moved towards building such leadership. The reason behind it could be that Hierarchical Leadership
        is very deeply rooted in the organisation to bring in new type of leadership structure or it also could be that the business of
        those organisations really requires hierarchical leadership to them controlled and focused. Students were treated to a 
        discussion of rich quality.

Subpages (1): Speakers