Editor's note: This is the third in a series of three posts (previously published in The Wall Street Journal ) introducing the Moonshots for Management that now make up the framework for the MIX. We're republishing them here to give an introduction for those readers of the MIX who may not be familiar with them, as well as to provide some of the rationale behind the moonshots for those are already acquainted with them. In case you missed them, here are links to the first post which explained the rationale for coming up with the Moonshots, and the second post , which introduced the first 10 Moonshots. In the third post, Gary introduces the remaining 15 Moonshots.
11. Dramatically reduce the pull of the past.
Management processes often contain subtle biases that favor continuity over change. While continuity is important, these subtle baked-in preferences for the status quo must be exposed, examined, and, if necessary, excised.
12. Share the work of setting direction.
To engender commitment, the responsibility for goal-setting must be distributed through a process where...
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of three posts (previously published in The Wall Street Journal ) introducing the Moonshots for Management that now make up the framework for the MIX. We're republishing them here to give an introduction for those readers of the MIX who may not be familiar with them, as well as to provide some of the rationale behind the moonshots for those are already acquainted with them. In case you missed it, we published the first post here last week.
What is it about the way large organizations are currently managed, structured, and led that will most imperil their ability to thrive in the decades ahead?
Given that, what sorts of changes will be needed in management principles, processes and practices if we are to build companies that are truly fit for the future?
In May 2008, 35 management scholars and practitioners gathered to debate these questions. (For more background on the conference, see my earlier post, Management Moonshots Part I .) The goal of the conclave: to develop a portfolio of grand challenges for reinventing the work of management. Dozens...
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of three posts (previously published in The Wall Street Journal ) introducing the Moonshots for Management that now make up the framework for the MIX. We're republishing them here to give an introduction for those readers of the MIX who may not be familiar with them, as well as to provide some of the rationale behind the moonshots for those are already acquainted with them. The second post in the series can be read here .
If you’re a professional manager, here’s a question for you: What’s the obstinate, knotty management problem you’re working to solve—the one that bedevils your organization, that lies beyond the boundaries of best practice, and has no obvious solution? In other words, are you working on anything that might advance the state of the art in a fundamental way? Are you aiming to fundamentally improve the technology we use to mobilize human resources to productive ends—that is, the technology of management? If no, why not?
Geneticists hope to dramatically improve human health—by untangling the complexities of the genome. Computer scientists work to radically extend the limits of human capability—by...
I’m a big fan of New Yorker cartoons. There’s usually at least one in every issue that provokes a wry smile or a wince of self-recognition. While I’ve never actually participated in the magazine’s weekly caption competition, I occasionally gin up a prospective entry. Last week, the contest featured a drawing of a couple sitting in a living room. The husband (perhaps?) was perusing a newspaper on the sofa while his wife lounged in a nearby armchair. She was a mermaid—naked from the waist up, her large flipper resting demurely on the floor. With her head angled towards her companion and her mouth open in mid-sentence, I imagined her to be saying: “After ten years, I think you could have learned to scuba dive,” or “Hiking in the Alps again? I thought we could take a beach holiday this year.”
One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows an office worker slumped against the wall, clutching his chest. As worried colleagues rush to aid the stricken employee, he mumbles: “Don’t worry, it was just a fleeting sense of purpose.”
These sardonic portraits of the human condition resonate with us because they capture something deep and true. The mermaid-out-of-water...
If you were compiling a list of the world's most innovative companies, which businesses would top your list? No one would be surprised if you picked Google, Apple or Amazon, but what about Wal-Mart? (Huh?) Or PG&E (a utility, for crying out loud)? Surely there must be some mistake! Or how 'bout the Chinese data equipment maker Huawei (umm, who are they)? While a few of these companies might not have made it onto your top 10 list, all of them were featured in Fast Company's 2010 ranking of innovation all-stars.
The list toppers:
1. Facebook 2. Amazon 3. Apple 4. Google 5. Huawei 6. First Solar 7. PG&E 8. Novartis 9. Wal-Mart 10. HP
As you might expect, BusinessWeek has its own list of innovation standouts:
1. Apple 2. Google 3. Microsoft 4. IBM 5. Toyota 6. Amazon 7. LG Electronics 8. BYD 9. GE 10. Sony
I’m a capitalist by conviction and profession. I believe the best economic system is one that rewards entrepreneurship and risk-taking, maximizes customer choice, uses markets to allocate scarce resources and minimizes the regulatory burden on business. If there’s a better recipe for creating prosperity I haven’t seen it.
So why do fewer than four out of ten consumers in the developed world believe that large corporations make a “somewhat” or “generally” positive contribution to society? (This according to a 2007 study by McKinsey & Company .) Why is it that only 19% of Americans tell pollsters they have “quite a lot” or a “great deal” of confidence in big business? (In the 2010 Gallup survey , only Congress scored worse.) It seems that a majority of us expect big companies to behave badly—to ravish the environment, exploit employees and mislead customers. When it comes to feckless irresponsibility, big business seems to be in the same league as Tiger Woods and Lindsay Lohan.
Some blame Wall Street for this state of affairs. In March 2009, the Financial Times claimed that the “credit crisis had destroyed faith in the free market ideology that has dominated Western thinking for...
I live a half mile from the San Andreas fault—a fact that bubbles up into my consciousness every time some other part of the world experiences an earthquake. I sometimes wonder whether this subterranean sense of impending disaster is at least partly responsible for Silicon Valley’s feverish, get-it-done-yesterday work norms. Build your company quick ’cause tomorrow we might get flattened.
Like many sorts of change, major tectonic events happen very slowly and then all of a sudden. The earth’s wandering plates are held in check by friction for decades or centuries, and then one day the forces of change finally break through to the surface and the planet erupts.
Social convulsions aren’t usually as abrupt as earthquakes, but they can still be startling—particularly to those who haven’t been paying attention. Years of repressed resentments and bottled-up frustrations can suddenly burst forth and fracture long-standing relationships. It happened in 1773 when angry colonists dumped 300 chests of British Tea into Boston Harbor. It happened in 1965 when determined civil rights campaigners marched from Selma, Ala., to the state capitol. It happened in 1989 when euphoric Germans tore down the Berlin Wall.
In the years ahead, any leader who hopes to have followers will need to carefully examine the foundations of their own authority. Why? Because we live in a world where the effectiveness of positional power is rapidly diminishing—at least outside of prisons and elementary schools.
Thanks to Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, FEMA, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie Mae, et al , the generation now joining the workforce has an extraordinarily jaundiced view of authority. They are deeply (and often rightly) suspicious of large organizations and those who run them. In their view, it’s not titles and credentials that make a leader worth following, but mission, self-sacrifice and world-class competence. Another worrying trend for centralization-minded leaders—an accelerating pace of change that penalizes organizations with lumbering top-down decision-making structures.
While the Facebook Generation must still contend with trickle-down power structures at work and in school, they have experienced a ubiquitous and powerful alternative: The Internet. The Internet is flat, open and meretricious. Nevertheless, there are thousands of natural hierarchies online. Pick any subject, search the blogosphere, and you’ll uncover a hierarchy of influence—some blogs receive higher authority scores than others. Visit any online discussion group and you’ll find that a few frequent...
The experience of growing up online will profoundly shape the workplace expectations of “Generation F” – the Facebook Generation. At a minimum, they’ll expect the social environment of work to reflect the social context of the Web, rather than as is currently the case, a mid-20th-century Weberian bureaucracy.
If your company hopes to attract the most creative and energetic members of Gen F, it will need to understand these Internet-derived expectations, and then reinvent its management practices accordingly. Sure, it’s a buyer’s market for talent right now, but that won’t always be the case—and in the future, any company that lacks a vital core of Gen F employees will soon find itself stuck in the mud.
With that in mind, I compiled a list of 12 work-relevant characteristics of online life. These are the post-bureaucratic realities that tomorrow’s employees will use as yardsticks in determining whether your company is “with it” or “past it.” In assembling this short list, I haven’t tried to catalog every salient feature of the Web’s social milieu, only those that are most at odds with the legacy practices found in large companies.
Bold innovations often take time. That’s why progress must be judged both in relation to the starting point as well as the final destination. For example, in America’s space program, the first successful docking of two orbiting spacecraft, the Gemini VIII capsule and the unmanned Agena target vehicle, took place on March 16, 1966. While this was an important milestone, it was still just an intermediate step in the long journey to land a human being on the moon. While the commander of Gemini VIII, Neil Armstrong, would ultimately walk on the moon, that wouldn’t happen until 1969.
In my experience, fundamental management innovation is also a multi-stage, multi-year process. This is true for several reasons. First, in a company that has been around for a while, it’s impossible to start from scratch and hazardous to move too quickly. Innovators in a decades-old company don’t have a clean sheet of paper. Moreover, they have to make sure that the business keeps running while they’re developing and testing their new management practices. That’s why the transformation at HCL is still a work in progress, and needs to be judged as such.
How’d you like to put a question to one of the world’s most inspired management innovators—a CEO who’s challenged a host of management orthodoxies? At the end of this post, I’ll explain how you can do just that.
As most MIXers know, I believe that many of the tools and methods we use to manage people at work are ill-suited to the challenges of succeeding in today’s “creative economy.” All too often, legacy management practices reflexively perpetuate the past—by over-weighting the views of long-tenured executives, by valuing conformance more highly than creativity and by turning tired industry nostrums into sacred truths.
Fair enough, you might say. Everybody knows there are downsides to management-as-usual, but are they any alternatives? We can dream about organizations where employees eagerly challenge their superiors, where honesty trumps deference and where the pyramid has been turned upside down—but then again, we can also dream about world peace and cold fusion. That doesn’t mean they’re achievable.
This sort of skepticism is understandable. After all, the technology of management varies little from firm to firm. Given that, it is easy, and rational, to assume that the management status quo is also...