It was long established that the advances in technology are driving the tempo of change in complex business organizations. Harvard Business Review wrote about the need for greater differentiation and tighter integration as far back as the 60ties. It established that the introduction of a new management job — the integrator — was essential.

Ever since then, this tricky role has been expanding to include emerging trends in need of integration. Because differentiation and integration are, in essence, antagonistic, the role of an integrator is complex and calls for creativity and a diversified approach.

For many large businesses, one integrator can hardly do the job. Just as Harvard Business Review predicted, “one of the critical organizational innovations will be the establishment of management positions, and even formal departments, charged with the task of achieving integration.”

Basically, the role of an integrator is to help the business achieve both differentiation and integration simultaneously. To make this complex goal come true, integrators must be exceptional leaders capable of holding everything together by executing the business plan, providing cadence, and being accountable for the profit and loss results.


Why Are Integrators Essential?

In this time and age, explaining complex information is a matter of life and death for businesses. With so many changes taking place, organizations have no other choice than to integrate all processes and databases moving forward.

With the rise of the gig economy and remote work, the matter has become more pronounced. The fact that many people are looking for passing gigs makes transitions and turnovers all the more painful.

This spells trouble for businesses looking for integrators as the role doesn’t have particular requirements and prerequisites. While many CEOs argue that everyone can teach themselves to become an integrator, the issue is that not everyone is willing to. With so many other jobs available all around, the effort is not worth it for many people.

Integrators are expected to contribute to a number of areas, notably business and/or corporate development, engagement, communication, and project management. They aim to achieve consistency, enable agility, drive results and ensure proper prioritization, all the while integrating the leadership team. In other words, it’s the mindset that matters. Thinking like an integrator is a crucial skill that not everyone can develop.

Long past are the times when an “integrator” was seen as a single, unique role. Nowadays, with the rapid advances of technology and science, there are a number of sub-roles. Thus, there are business integrators, system integrators, and even commercial integrators, depending on the focus of the role.

All of them, however, are in the possession of specific skill sets without which they wouldn’t be able to perform such demanding tasks. Some of the crucial skills and competencies an integrator should possess include decision-making, business and data analysis skills, people management skills, situational leadership, contribution skills, and performance assessment skills.

Because integration in itself is a continual —  let alone complex —  process, every business needs an integrator or, in the case of larger businesses, a whole integration team.

As mentioned above, this is a managerial role, but since soft skills matter more than the specialization, everyone in the possession of the abovementioned skills can learn to be an integrator, if they so desire.

As a rule, integrators have the autonomy to do things their way and also must possess the authority — both vertical and horizontal — as to be able to successfully work with people who don’t report to them directly.


Diversify Your Workforce

Because of this, it is necessary to develop cross-cultural training. Keeping in mind that hybrid work models are gaining momentum, it is also necessary for integrators to be capable of leading and bringing up-to-speed both office and remote teams.

It is often the case with remote teams to include people from different backgrounds, countries and cultures, so cultural sensitivity must be taken into account.

Integrators will help you diversify your workforce in more ways than one. Not only are they capable of simplifying performance management, but they also deliver purpose clearly. Since it is often the case that performance management frameworks are unreliable when it comes to individual performance (especially in large companies), integrators can do what they are supposed to do —  integrate and diversify people’s respective roles all the while keeping the company’s mission in mind.

In plain words, they never lose sight of the bigger picture and cannot get distracted by small obstacles — which is no small feat.


Continual Learning

Continual learning is a must; that much is clear to everyone. However, new generations are becoming more demanding in terms of materials and their attention span gets shorter by the minute, thanks to new tech.

Here’s a win-win combination: develop courses using gamification techniques.

As the name portends, gamified training programs differ greatly depending on the scope, topic, and learners’ interests. What all of the programs have in common are the game-like elements, which include:

  •         Points —identify progress
  •         Badges — display achievements (milestones and similar)
  •         Leaderboards — rankings

Additional elements may or may not include progress bars, incentives (recommended), rewards for the milestones achieved, a narrative, feedback, and interaction elements (comments or forums for learners to discuss ideas).

By combining these tips and relying on integration, you should be able to utilize complex information. Keep an eye on the developments and keep refining your training programs.