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In the relationship era of business, networked structure rules

Posted on by Brandon Klein

In the heyday of the industrial era, business jargon had a mechanical ring to it. A flourishing organization was a “well-oiled machine,” and terms like “precision” and “maximized production” dominated workplace conversation. Management ruled the corporate engine, overseeing operations from atop a clearly defined hierarchy.

In today’s relationship era of business, however, this type of rigidity is counterproductive. Among millennials in particular (who will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020), there is almost no greater source of unease than the feeling of being a “cog in a machine.” Today’s business buzzwords—“disrupt,” “innovate,” “thought leader”—elicit images of free-flowing ideas. Employees (especially millennials) expect to have a voice that contributes to the company’s mission. Giving them a voice requires rethinking traditional management structures.