What should we call post-Industrial Era organizations?

I recently saw an article that used “Industrial Era 4.0” but that still seems to focus on levels of technology with little emphasis on the human element that is involved in this transformation. Is just “post-Industrial” sufficient? I have been using “New Era Organizations” to capture this shift but wonder if the phrase is sufficient in capturing what I am trying to relate. A few authors are using “platform organizations” that capture an alternate structure and way of operating. Others are using “boundaryless organizations” or “agile organizations” to capture other aspects of organizations. I have also run across “future-ready organizations” and “adaptive organizations” with others including variations on “knowledge-driven” or “progressive”.

What words are you using to capture the next stage in the evolution of “organizations”?

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Interesting topic! I have not much to add but as an agile practitioner I haven’t seen any agile organizations yet, not even the ones that claim they are. I do like “Knowledge-driven” as there is much talk about knowledge workers and how it’s different now compared to industry workers and organizations.


Great question, @DrRossWirth. We’ve (specifically, @jenkelchner) have written on the term “Industry 4.0” before. It doesn’t necessarily describe an organizational type, but rather a social and economic context for which certain organizational models are better suited than others. Naturally we think “open organizations” are those better suited. :slight_smile:

I think the term one chooses depends largely on the context of the explanation, comparison, or point one is trying to make. For example, in some cases we might describe “platform organizations” as more “adaptive organizations” and therefore “future-ready organizations.” The issue I have with selecting an umbrella term is that it tends to enable too-quick reductions or simplifications, where “new term” (e.g., “agile organizations”) gets associated with “good” or “desirable” organizations and “old term” (e.g., “industrial organizations”) gets associated with “bad” or “undesirable” ones—when in fact most organizations are mixtures of various models and dynamics.

(Incidentally, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that so many modern software production models and techniques, such as DevOps, draw inspiration from lean manufacturing philosophies—quite industrial-minded indeed!)

@Bryan - I am looking to validate an umbrella term for the many phrases that are in current use as I author a book. The book is tentatively titled “Leading New Era Organizations - Not your Father’s Management Textbook” and I wanted to see if there was a better term for “New Era” in this context.

The prepublication draft is available for those interested in providing feedback - https://www.futocracy.network/plans/370645?bundle_token=594773b48c2a4284b8f887b0cad3e7d5&utm_source=manual

Neat! I’ll gladly check it out. Thanks for the tip, @DrRossWirth.

As your book ferments to a place at which you’re feeling comfortable about its arguments, analyses, etc., we might consider inviting you to do a “book chat” about it with our community—either informally, at a monthly community meeting, or more formally, on something like our YouTube channel, theopenorganization.tv.

(1) I welcome the opportunity to further test concepts in the book with an interactive audience. Let you know what dates work for you and how you might want to narrow the focus. The presentation format can range from a formal presentation to an interactive discussion on the topic.

(2) I am also testing sections of the book with a LinkedIn Newsletter. Any comments I get are worked back into the draft as points of clarification or elaboration. https://www.linkedin.com/newsletters/new-era-organizations-7066625123297988608/

Nice! That’s great to hear. We’ll want to engage @Jimmy, who maintains our multimedia materials and runs our YouTube channel.

I like this idea a lot. While I’m not personally on LinkedIn, a number of our community members are (particularly @ronmcfarl and @HeidiHVL), and they might consider engaging there.

Thank you for the inclusion in the convo! @DrRossWirth - I’ve routinely wrestled with the same sort of issue. As you’re likely aware the “trending phrase” changes up every couple of years and then as authors we also want to introduce a more robust language or understanding that is valuable. My personal roadblock has been that I need to write to my audience, meet them where they are, and bridge them into a “new era”. Couldn’t refuse using that :slight_smile:

I’ll say that I still see “Industry 4.0” being used to talk about the broader sense but as you’ve already expressed at granular levels AND depending on the industry/org you’ll find a host of other terms.

Oh, and there is that pesky other thing we have to research while writing. SEO optimization. Our word choices and phrases that are “too new” for many still require a lot of specific SEO keywording embedded in our text to actually get the word out.

Best of luck, look forward to checking out your work!

@jenkelchner - I am testing some articles for feedback at the “New Era Organizations” newsletter - subscribe on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/build-relation/newsletter-follow?entityUrn=7066625123297988608 (I have been using New Era in my work but began to worry about it being the right phrase.)

And I am opening the draft of a book for those interested in providing feedback as I develop more content.