Over a year ago, creating a network of teams was not a priority for many companies, but as the world encountered a global pandemic, the workflow evolved utterly. The COVID-19 crisis has shaken every business in ways they did not expect. As rapid changes keep taking place, the urgency to respond to new challenges requires skilled people to make quick and effective decisions. There’s no time to wait for senior executives’ approval and traditional governance to make urgent resolutions. Current circumstances demand a certain level of coordination across teams and activities to guarantee profitability. 

Creating a strong network of teams qualified to operate outside the current bureaucratic structures may seem complicated. However, we’ve navigated and consulted many organizations on taking this path and creating nerve centers. The ensuing effects were not long in coming. Today these centers are taking over crucial operations to deal with disturbances and quickly shifting priorities. Having a network of teams has proved that as the world evolves, the way work is designed needs to be updated respectively.

What are nerve centers? How do they help enterprises make better business decisions?

A nerve center is a highly resourceful, coordinated network of teams that focuses on developing crucial organizational capabilities to analyze and react to hazards in real-time. These teams can make faster and better decisions as they are always one step ahead of the swiftly developing market. While companies decentralize authority, they build a progressive network of teams empowered to offer solutions and improve outcomes.

Nerve centers provide senior government leaders with the structure and accuracy to respond and activate every part of the organization quickly. Therefore, this approach positions enterprises to better manage a crisis and make more reliable business decisions.

The new model of organization and its fundamentals  

To embrace the new model, gathering a small group to carry out these functions is just the beginning. Building an empowered network of teams with a rapid information flow and an elevated level of communication should be based on the following fundamentals:

  • Reverse the traditional structure of goals and performance management by allowing teams to make decisions and establish their success metrics based on your overall business plan. 
  • Describe the relationship between team activities and desired results, share integrated information, and give teams a shared understanding of each other. 
  • Start organizing teams around product, market, mission, or unified customer needs rather than a business function.  
  • Motivate and teach people to work across teams, use open office spaces that encourage collaboration and work rotation. 
  • Change the concept of having one person working with the same people all the time. Allow them to move from team to team as needed, always having a home to return to once a team-based project ends.
  • Allow senior leaders to experience roles focused on cross-team communication, culture, vision, and strategy.
network of teams

Human capital trends for 2021 include the redesigning of work as a top priority for many organizations. How has this trend become so prominent? There are two main reasons for that. First, there’s a growing stress of getting products to the market quickly. Second, there’s a higher consciousness of empowerment among the labor force, causing small teams in nerve centers to work more productively.

Essential steps to building a network of teams  

Small groups can deliver results quicker and engage people better while staying closer to their mission. With that in mind, creating a network of teams should be on every company’s agenda. To build a versatile network of groups to act up to a shared objective, leaders should start by taking the following steps: 

  1. Start now and develop as you go. Waiting for the perfect moment or the right people will only hinder your progress. Begin by building teams focused on addressing the organization’s current priorities and primary challenges. As you go, create a nerve center that regulates and organizes the information while other teams operate as crosspieces. One can be an intelligence team responsible for the network’s level of situational awareness. The second team should take part in planning-ahead scenarios for future disturbances and recovery. There will be much learning to drive as mistakes will be made, use them to improve operations, and better the strategy. 
  2. Empower and support. As nerve centers connect with an increasing network of teams making their own connections, the leader should be delegating authority while staying highly involved. Educate leaders to have a clear vision of the empowerment these teams possess to make decisions without others’ permission. Ensure multi-directional communication takes place at all levels of the organization. Ongoing coordination with the nerve center should provide reports on progress and approaches to support teams and meet their needs. 
  3. Create an environment for peak performance. Now you have an organized network of teams, how do you secure its success? The answer is simple: create and nourish an atmosphere of collaboration, trust, and psychological safety. Each team member needs to feel encouraged to share their ideas for peak performance to happen. Having a high level of trust within and across teams helps members share information and keep learning after making mistakes. Psychological safety is even more vital in times of crisis when individuals and groups need to act fast and accurately.  
  4. Boost self-managing. At this point, with the initial network of teams set and the appropriate support of leaders, the network is ready to be self-reliant and self-organized. This kind of independence will lessen the interaction between leaders and individual teams. However, leadership roles become essential as they continue to empower and support efforts, eliminate obstacles, and maintain an environment for high efficiency.

how to build a network of teams and nerve centers

Changing the organization chart 

The pandemic has taught us that there are better and more effective ways to organize work. Changing the organization chart is only the first step to transitioning into a network of teams. In reality vertical hierarchical models are slowly dying. It is high time to question traditional organizational structures, empower teams, delegate authority, and promote a culture of shared information with a common purpose, vision, and direction.