Transformation of Digital Team Structure Models within Todays Companies

By Rebecca Bennett

 

Is your digital business model working for you? Will it accommodate the changing terrain in the next 1 to 5 years?

There are 5 team governance models ‘new-business focuses’ tend to go through. The biggest focus that is taking the stage right now is digital business for almost every company. If you are adding a digital team or expanding upon it, it is worthwhile to know the general evolution of the structural models that they teams tend to go through to see where your team is headed next.

The Informal Model

This model is where newbie digital teams are born under. Generally there is an individual in the organization whom has become a thought leader on the new business concept aninformal-digital-modeld is driving the concept home to other team members and departments. They are the educator
and the advocate for the new business oppor
tunity. They
will launch new initiatives in hopes of building the momentum into something bigger. When they build up enough momentum, depending on the company size, the model will generally transition into one of the next 2 models: Centralized or Independent.

The Centralized Model

Once a company makes the realization that they should invest in this new business concept,centralized-model they generally form a segregated department to drive it. This is common particularly in large corporations, chiefly international entities, with lots of resources. The issues that tend to follow with this model tend to be that the new department still finds that they have to spend time getting the other departments to cooperate with them. These other departments tend to adopt the attitude of “that’s their thing, not ours,” and step back. Established departments and department heads tend to stick to what they know and do best and fear going out on a limb into unknown territory and therefore distance themselves from it. There is a high correlation between new initiatives and mistakes. There is a tendency to not want to be the guinea pig and make those mistakes on your own turf and rather leave it to someone else.

The Independent Model

independent-modelThe Independent Model is more common in small-mid-sized companies that generally have fewer resources to commit to creating a whole new department. What happens in this model is you have a few dedicated individuals from each group to collaborate on the new business initiative. The issue with this model however, is that there is no centralization of resources or effort, which m
akes it difficult and time consuming to achieve large scale and complex initiatives.

The Hybrid Model

Once a companyhybrid-modelk reaches a certain level of maturity with the new business they tend to transition into what’s called a Hybrid Model. This model is a cross between the last 2 models; Centralized and Independent. This model is an ideal model for digital teams because you have a centralized team that can streamline and direct the efforts of individual team members from each group. This model really gives the new team a lot more flexibility and power. By having individuals from each team involved they can be the spokesperson and leader for their group on all things digital. This keeps all groups engaged with the new initiative to keep that momentum building.

The Holistic Model

This model empowers all individuals of the organization to think about the business as a whole and how the new business can integrate and build within the current infrastructure. Generally holisticbusinesses tend to keep the big picture perspectives the duty of their C-Suite and boards. This model has a narrow focus and consequently limits your abilities and growth. In this model companies are asking their employees to operate in their specialty but from a global and digital perspective. Everyone is involved, and not just getting their toes wet involved, everyone is knee deep involved. Startups from the past decade have been the main driver of this model, hiring college grad Millennials. Given that these startups have now turned into successful large companies such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, this model should definitely be worth your consideration, or at least some hybrid of it.

Finding the right model for your digital team depends on the size of your business, where you and your markets are located, how strong the digital business side is tied to your portfolio, whether your business is B2B or B2C in nature (B2C tends to move faster), the current skill sets and leaders you have in place and the level of collaboration you have in your culture. And once you find a model that works for your business, go back and evaluate it every year to make sure that it is still the model that serves your best interest because the landscape is constantly changing. And no matter what, regardless of what model you choose, as a senior leader you need to not just stand behind your decision, but also drive it. The more support you give to your team and advocate your position, the more commitment you gain from your team leaders.

SOURCES

Hanlon, Annmarie.  Reviewing marketing team structures as part of Digital transformationhttp://www.smartinsights.com/manage-digital-transformation/digital-transformation-strategy/maximising-digital-performance-effective-digital-transformation/

Huer, Chris. The Time Has Come For Holistic Business Strategy. January 2011. http://www.briansolis.com/2011/01/the-time-has-come-for-holistic-business-strategy/

Mogus, Jason; Silberman, Michael; & Roy, Christopher.  Four Models for Managing Digital at Your Organization. Stanford Social Innovation Review. October 2011. http://ssir.org/articles/entry/four_models_for_organizing_digital_work_part_two

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