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Future-Proofing the High-Performance Organization

The future of work is one of the most crucial platforms currently for business leaders as organizations have to prepare themselves to adequately deal with megatrends and disruptors in their technical and physical environments. At the same time, megatrends and disruptors can present both business opportunities and threats. The research question this study dealt with was: How should high-performance organizations (HPOs) address megatrends and disruptors in such a way that they can secure sustainable performance?

Thirteen megatrends and one disruptor were matched with the characteristics of HPOs, making use of the HPO Framework, which Future-Proofing the High-Performance Organizationdistinguishes five characteristics (management quality, openness and action orientation, long-term orientation, continuous improvement and renewal, employee quality), for mapping the predicted impact the megatrends and disruptor will have on HPOs. From this mapping exercise, clear opportunities and threats emerged for which solutions, i.e., courses of action to deal with the threats or take advantage of the opportunities, were identified from the literature. These courses of action will help leaders of HPOs in priority-setting and decision-making when making strategic plans and choosing solutions for their own organizations. Unfortunately, this study revealed that academic literature currently falls short at suggesting courses of action that organizations can use to deal with many of the megatrends and disruptors. This result creates an urgent call for in-depth academic research into ways that organizations, and specifically HPOs, should deal with the future of work changes as these courses of action have to be incorporated in future strategies such that they stay relevant for the daily practice of organizations.

Keywords: future of work; megatrends; disruptors; high-performance organizations; future-readiness; opportunities and threats


As was the case in previous decades, organizations in the current era have to deal with disruptions in their environments. These disruptions can take the shape of (1) megatrends, described as large social, economic, political, and technological changes that are slow to form, and once in place, have an influence for some time, between seven and ten years, or longer [1], or (2) disruptors, defined as “someone or something that prevents something, especially a system, process or event, from continuing as usual or as expected” [2]. The main difference between megatrends and disruptors is the speed with which they appear and the effects they have, i.e., megatrends are changes that (often gradually)
take place over a longer period, while disruptors are short-term, seemingly unexpected sharp changes with a high impact [3]. Both can present business opportunities, but more often than not, they are seen as threats to future business growth or even to the sustainability of the organization [4,5]. A high-performance organization (HPO), defined as “an organization that achieves financial and non-financial results that are exceedingly better than those of its peer group over a period of five years or more by focusing in a disciplined way on that what really matters to the organization”, is seen as an organization that potentially thrives because of these disruptions. This is because…

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