The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance In the Changing World of Work

The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance In the Changing World of Work

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by Cathleen Benko, Molly Anderson

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The corporate ladder has been the prevailing model for how companies manage their work and their people since the beginning of the industrial revolution a century ago. The ladder represents an inflexible view in which prestige, rewards, access to information, influence, power, etc. are tied to the rung one occupies. The problem is, the authors argue, we no longer


The corporate ladder has been the prevailing model for how companies manage their work and their people since the beginning of the industrial revolution a century ago. The ladder represents an inflexible view in which prestige, rewards, access to information, influence, power, etc. are tied to the rung one occupies. The problem is, the authors argue, we no longer live in the industrial age.

The pace of change is faster. Work is increasingly virtual, collaborative, and dispersed. Organizations are flatter. Companies are much easier to see into. Careers zig and zag. Work is done wherever, whenever. And information flows in all directions. The result? The ladder model — along with the outdated norms and expectations that defined it — is collapsing.

In their best-selling book, The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Work, author Cathy Benko and co-author Molly Anderson define the emerging Corporate LatticeTM model and argue convincingly that a lattice is better suited for today’s global business environment. They describe the shift across three dimensions:

--How careers are built: From straight up to zigzag. Rather than a series of linear career paths, lattice organizations offer customized options for growth and development. Lattice ways to build careers attract and engage the best talent and create versatile employees well suited to respond to change.

--How work gets done: From where you go to what you do. Rather than expecting people to sit at their desks clocking face time from 9 to 5, lattice organizations offer options for when, where, and how people do their work. Lattice ways to work increase productivity and retention while increasing strategic flexibility in business operations.

--How participation is fostered: From top-down to all-in. Instead of directed, top-down communications, lattice organizations nurture transparent cultures, providing multiple ways for people to share ideas, learn, and team. Lattice ways to participate tap the power of an inclusive workplace to drive innovation, growth, and agility.

Offering much more than theory, the authors illustrate the lattice model using rich, in-depth case studies of exemplars including Cisco, Deloitte LLP, and Thomson Reuters. They also explore the changing role each individual plays in directing his or her own lattice journey.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


“Cathy Benko and Molly Anderson have produced a landmark book that should be read and reread by anyone who cares about improving corporate performance. It argues persuasively that the old corporate ladder metaphor is dead. What has emerged in its place is the corporate lattice, which is flatter and more collaborative and in tune with the changing workplace and workforce. You will find yourself nodding in agreement with the analysis of this new world and taking notes on what to do about it. This is a book that will have a profound and positive impact. I recommend it highly.”
-- Anne Mulcahy, Chairman, Xerox Corporation

“The right model for the times. Lattice takes on worn-out corporate ladder assumptions and convincingly argues that the workplace must adopt more nimble ways to engage its people. This book illuminates a much-needed path forward, showing organizations how to tap into each individual’s performance power to achieve exceptional bottom-line results.”
-- Marshall Goldsmith, world-renowned executive coach and New York Times best-selling author

“The war for talent will never end. Victory will go to those organizations that solve the high performance and career-life quagmire. This book, a sequel to Mass Career Customization, moves beyond theory to everyday practice. It describes how the lattice has been made to work in real companies with great success. Anyone responsible for driving results should read this book.”
-- Shelly Lazarus, Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide

“Read this book immediately if you want to crack the code on how to build and sustain a truly engaged, diverse workforce. A fascinating read with stunning data; it’s chock full of pragmatic ideas and evocative examples.”
-- John Seely Brown, former Chief Scientist, Xerox Corporation; co-author of The Social Life of Information and The Power of Pull


“As a follow up to her book, Mass Career Customization, Cathleen Benko and Molly Anderson have teamed up to present The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Work.
As outlined in MCC, the world of work is changing, not only for companies, but also for individuals: personal values, diversity, and skills are being viewed differently than they once were, and it’s changing the structure of people’s lives. Because of these factors, more people aren’t necessarily “climbing the ladder” like they once were. They’re working from home and available 24/7 (as opposed to 9 to 5), they’re looking for challenges, and they want to learn new things. Thus, the old corporate model also needs to adjust, and The Corporate Lattice provides the framework to make changes.
As Shelly Lazarus, Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather, states on the back cover: “Anyone responsible for driving results should read this book.” It’s true. Whether you’re an employee, looking for ways to advance your skill set and achieve more, read this book. Or, if you’re a manager and want more from your team, read this book. For both, it’s a clear guide on how to find, or provide, an environment that builds engagement – and that engagement provides both sides a wealth of value. “
-- 800-CEO-READ; The Daily Blog

“I highly recommend the landmark and must read book The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Work by Cathleen Benko and Molly Anderson, to anyone seeking a more in depth understanding of the transformation of the modern workplace from a traditional, hierarchical ladder concept to that of a more diverse, and multi-directional corporate lattice framework. The book contains the blueprint to guide corporate leaders and employees toward a more participatory and collaborative company where work and life are better balanced, employees are more engaged and productive, and where the corporate bottom line is improved as well.”
-- Blog Business World

“Also recommended is Cathleen Benko and Molly Anderson’s THE CORPORATE LATTICE: ACHIEVING HIGH PERFORMANCE IN THE CHANGING WORLD OF WORK. Changes in the definition and strategies of the corporate world are also changing definitions of work and how the corporate ladder may be climbed: this book creates a model for allowing companies to create more cost-effective approaches to work, from managing real estate and technology to engaging high-performing workers. Businesses need this model of success for the new corporate environment.”
-- The Business Book Shelf; Book Review

Product Details

Harvard Business Review Press
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The Corporate Lattice

Achieving High Performance In the Changing World of Work
By Benko, Cathleen

Harvard Business Press

Copyright © 2010 Benko, Cathleen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781422155165

The world of work is at an inflection point. The hierarchical corporate ladder is giving way to a multidimensional corporate latticeTM.
Firmly rooted in the industrial age, the corporate ladder has been the prevailing paradigm for how an enterprise is organized and how it manages its work and people. At its heart, the ladder depends on an inflexible organizational worldview in which prestige, rewards, information access, and power are tied to the rung each employee occupies. Its one-size-fits-all approach assumes employees are more alike than different. The ladder is built on a top-down, 9-to-5 notion of when, where, and how work gets done. It defines career success as a linear climb to the top.
Still today, this antiquated model continues to shape the ways organizations—sometimes consciously and sometimes not—operate. The mental image of a ladder is etched in our corporate consciousness and has obscured, until now, the sea change already underway.

Workplaces aren’t what they used to be. Organizational structures are flatter, challenging traditional talent development models that primarily rely on upward progression. Knowledge and services work dominate the economy. Much of this work is less bound to a physical location than traditional production processes. As a result of technological advances and globalization, workers are less tethered to traditional offices and set hours. And the makeup of work is changing, too. There are 40 times more projects today than 20 years ago, heightening the need for teamwork. Work is changing so fast that the U.S. Department of Education estimates that 60 percent of all new jobs in the 21st century will require skills that only 20 percent of current employees possess.

The workforce isn’t what it used to be either. Family structures have changed markedly, with profound implications for a corporate ladder model predicated on a household arrangement that, by and large, no longer exists to support it. Up until the 1960s, two-thirds of U.S. households were traditional, defined as Dad going off to work while Mom stayed at home. That number today is down to 17 percent. Women now comprise half of the U.S. workforce, and almost 40 percent are the primary breadwinners for their families. Men in dual-career, dual-caregiver couples now cite more work-life conflict than women. Younger generations are bringing different attitudes to work at the same time that older workers are looking for options to stay in the labor market. Seventy percent of baby boomers and 92 percent of millennial cite career-life fit as a top priority. And along just about every dimension, employees are more diverse. By 2042, the U.S. workforce will be majority nonwhite.


Excerpted from The Corporate Lattice by Benko, Cathleen Copyright © 2010 by Benko, Cathleen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Cathleen Benko is Vice Chairman and Chief Talent Officer for Deloitte LLP and co-author of the best-seller Mass Career Customization: Aligning the Workplace with Today’s Nontraditional Workforce. Molly Anderson is Director of Talent for Deloitte Services LP, specializing in innovative strategies to engage today’s workforce.

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The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance In the Changing World of Work 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok. I have not read this book but it was rote by Molly Anderson and thats my name. :)
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Rooted in the industrial era, the corporate ladder takes an outdated, one-size-fits-all view of work. In the ladder world, work is where you go from 9 to 5. Success means a bigger title, office and paycheck, plus more power and prestige. Today¿s world is different, explain Deloitte vice chairman Cathleen Benko and talent director Molly Anderson. Globalization and technology are creating firms with fewer rungs and more options for how, when and where to work. Employees are also profoundly different and more diverse. Workers¿ needs and expectations don¿t match those of the former homogeneous workforce. The ladder is collapsing. The ¿corporate lattice¿ is emerging. getAbstract recommends this innovative explanation of the lattice model and how it aligns with the new world of work by allowing more options, careers that zig and zag, work that can be done many ways and good ideas that can come from anyone, anywhere, anytime.