This “management innovation” as Dr. Gary Hamel describes it, is much about the search for approaches to organizing, planning, leading and controlling that better fit the challenges of the 21st century. The implication is that in many cases, we’re still trying to solve new and emerging problems with 20th century management tools. Another implication is that we haven’t yet cracked the code on sustaining high-levels of organizational performance for extended periods of time.
In Search of Management Innovation:
While some position this pursuit of management innovation as something on the scale of an Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail, for those of us who aren’t management researchers and who have teams and organizations to run, we need something a bit more tangible to grab hold of and play with in pursuit of survival and sustained success.
Consider these as idea prompters laced with encouragement!
Six Quick Ideas to Stimulate Your Management Innovation Thinking:
1. Innovation in management approaches occurs like almost all other forms of innovation…through enlightened trial and error backed by a lot of curiosity and a willingness to accept failure on the road to success. Translation…it’s all about environment and leadership attitude. If you aren’t working hard on creating an environment that not only tolerates trial and error, but encourages it, then you are missing the critical first piece.
2. It’s how you use the tools that counts! Our tools…structure, people, leadership approaches, technology, communications, goal-setting and measurement mechanisms are fairly easy to identify…and genuinely finite…however, there are nearly infinite number of ways to apply the tools.
3. The Right Answer…Well, It Depends. What works right in one situation or environment is likely not the right answer for other situations or environments. Recognize that when entering a new business, setting up new teams or taking on new types of projects and problems, you need to view the situation as unique, not cookie cutter.
4. Structure matters…and strategy must beget structure. If you forget or misapply either one of these, you’re likely to generate more problems than answers.
5. Creativity is a commodity however, the application of creativity to solving problems is priceless. And before you skewer me for the “commodity” crack, consider that ideas are all around us…it’s the courage to take an idea and work it until it either proves useful or useless that takes true courage. Translation: the value isn’t in the brainstorming session, although the process of generating, parsing, prioritizing and acting-on ideas is critical.
6. It’s always the people, stupid! Do everything to get the right ones in place and give them the tools they need to fail on the road to success.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
At the wrap-up of a Kellogg Executive program a few years ago, the Organizational Design Professor encouraged all of the V and C level people in the room to “Never quit trying to innovate with our people and our organizations.” Her meaning was clear then and it’s more critical now than ever. How hard are you working to promote, support and reward management innovation in your workplace?