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Mission-based teams

Reconstructing businesses as an evolving network of teams and outcomes

2020 has provided business leaders with another example – if one were needed – of just how unpredictable today’s world can be. Business leaders at all levels therefore need to be able to solve unknowable problems, many of which represent opportunities for growth as well as existential risk. Mission Based Teams draws on the philosophy and structure of companies that have thrived in the Digital Economy and is designed to enable effective and rapid response to evolving opportunities. Mission Based Teams does this by re-thinking the traditional organisation structure, where functions (e.g. Marketing, Sales, Finance) operate in siloes and report to executive leaders on the delivery of function specific outputs (e.g. footfall, sales value, NPS). This structure effectively solves business problems relating to optimisation, but struggles to effectively solve for the unpredictable.

In a Mission Based Organisation, leaders express their strategic goals as a portfolio of prioritised consumer and business outcomes. Employees with diverse sets of skills work together in multidisciplinary mission teams to deliver these outcomes. Whilst success in the siloed model is often measured in quantitative terms (e.g. number of products of sold, customers served), a mission based organisation defines its success through a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures that represent the purpose of the business (e.g. benefits received by the consumer, differentiation gained). Mission Based Teams transforms and radically simplifies the way organisations operate, driving focus on achieving outcomes that define the success of their strategy and ensuring the right skills, capabilities and resources are flexibly allocated to respond to the highest priorities of the business.

Individuals with common skillsets often find themselves working on very different outcomes across the organisation. As a result, a formal people management structure (through ‘professions’) is required to overlook the development of skills and methodologies whilst providing consistent line management. This way of working is orchestrated by transparent and empowered leaders who have deep technical knowledge.

A highly transparent and accessible data pipeline is a critical enabler of multi-discipline working. As responsibility shifts from line managers held accountable for their function’s success towards mission leaders delivering outcomes, it is important to empower them with the flexibility to make data-driven decisions whilst minimising the inefficiencies of information flow.

Transforming into a Mission Based Organisation requires significant change but its long term benefits could be invaluable for companies wishing to re-invent themselves in the digital era. This paper introduces the concept of Mission Based Teams and the core components including outcomes, types of missions and professions before illustrating the conditions that enable a successful transformation.

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