When it comes to building management and business models that are fit for the 21 st century, one of the fundamental challenges is developing organizations that are capable of discovering, nurturing, aggregating, and appropriately rewarding contributions from employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders across boundaries.
What does it mean to create a genuine culture of innovation and collaboration—one in which every single person in the organization is switched on, alive and awake to the changes in the world and ready to contribute their ideas, insights, and particular point of view?
When it comes to creating organizations that are adaptable, innovative and engaging enough to meet the future, there's no single recipe, but there is a crucial ingredient: individual autonomy . People need freedom--the freedom to pursue their passions, experiment with new ides, ignore the hierarchy, make small bets, challenge conventional thinking, choose their work, and maybe even elect their own leaders.
Without freedom, there is little initiative, creativity or passion. Freedom isn't a privilege you earn by putting in time--it's not a perk doled out in tiny increments. Freedom is a right.
Of course, unleashing freedom inside organizations is a tough challenge because it requires dismantling deeply-embedded management principles and practices. But it’s even tougher to expand autonomy without exploding the important efficiencies and discipline that are a product of control.
Thanks to digital technologies, we can imagine organizations that transcend the tradeoff between freedom and control—that are large but not bureaucratic, focused but not myopic, efficient but not inflexible, and disciplined but not disempowering. We believe that embracing and experimenting with emerging digital technologies and the powerful principles behind them—from openness to diversity to flexibility—will lead to new and infinitely more empowering management...
With the Unlimited Human Potential Challenge , we are seeking the most progressive practices and innovative ideas for unleashing human capability to produce radically new approaches to organizing, competing, and creating advantage . How can we tap into emerging digital technologies and the principles that undergird them (such as transparency, collaboration, meritocracy, openness, community and self-determination) to imagine the future of business?
The mega challenge behind so many of the major challenges leaders face in the transition from the industrial to the innovation era is ultimately one of transcending tradeoffs. How do we make profit and purpose, scale and humanity, competition and community, focus and collaboration, discipline and creativity, power and generosity, individual and institution, “both/and’s” rather than “either/or’s?”
With the Unlimited Human Potential Challenge , we are seeking the most progressive practices and innovative ideas when it comes to unleashing human capacity —designing environments and systems for work that inspire individuals to contribute their full imagination, initiative, and passion every day; and aggregating human capability —leveraging new social, mobile, and digital technologies to activate, enlist, and organize talent across boundaries.
How can we tap into emerging digital technologies and the principles that undergird them (such as transparency, collaboration, meritocracy, openness, community and self-determination) to produce radically new approaches to organizing and creating value?
It may be one of the most important questions of our age. Individual ingenuity, initiative, and passion are the fuel of the Innovation Economy. Organizations and leaders must become increasingly inventive around unearthing, unleashing, cultivating, aggregating, and appropriately rewarding contributions from a range of stakeholders across boundaries.
If there’s one question on the minds of leaders everywhere, it is (or should be): How do I unleash the full ingenuity, initiative, and passion of every single person in my organization—and relevant to my organization—every single day?
We recently ran an open brainstorming session we call a “Quick MIX” focused on generating bold ideas around the themes of the recently-launched SAP Unlimited Human Potential Challenge . The question on the table: What is the one thing you’d change to help organizations unleash and organize human potential across boundaries?
Over the course of a week, MIXers from around the world submitted dozens of ideas for tackling the twin challenges of the Unlimited Human Potential M-Prize: 1) how do organizations unleash human capacity —by designing environments and systems for work that inspire individuals to contribute their full imagination, initiative, and passion every day, and 2) how do we create value for all by aggregating human capability —leveraging new social, mobile, and digital technologies (and the principles behind them) to activate, enlist, and organize talent across boundaries?
While the Quick MIX yielded a remarkable diversity of ideas, several powerful themes emerged. I’ll share some of them here, but it’s worth spending some time exploring the individual entries here . We’d like to thank all of the participants in the Quick MIX for their insightful contributions—and we encourage them and the wider community to build on...
Watch MIX co-founder Gary Hamel make the case for renegotiating the trade off between freedom and control at work. Can you imagine a future where you can not only bring your own device to work but also design your own job and choose your own boss?
So much of the conversation in business is about power: what you control (“I run a $200 million piece of the business”), who you control (“My 350 direct reports”), and how you control (org charts, pay grades, policy manuals). Of course, power and control are spectacularly subpar strategies for unleashing human imagination, initiative, and passion—all those qualities every organization needs in abundance in order to thrive in the Creative Economy.
For all of the billions organizations invest each year in “leadership development,” a criminal amount of human potential is left on the table. Training and development programs almost universally focus factory-like on inputs and outputs: absorb curriculum, check a box; learn a skill, advance a rung; submit an assessment, fix a problem. Flavor-of-the-month remedies, off-the-shelf programs, immersions, and excursions stuff people full of competencies and skills but produce astonishingly few great leaders.
The fact is, truly gifted leaders are rare. Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs—all sui generis . We celebrate them because they are the exception to the rule. That doesn’t stop us from constructing a model of executive perfection that borders on fantasy. The thousands of books, models, and gurus that make up the leadership industry are remarkably in sync when it comes to the qualities of a great leader: confident yet humble, creative yet analytical, flexible yet focused, bold yet prudent, decisive yet reflective, visionary yet practical, demanding yet empathetic.
Who on earth embodies all of these estimable (and contradictory) traits? No single person, of course. And that’s exactly the point. We live in a world where change is too fast, relentless, and surprising and...
Remember that classic New Yorker cartoon with Rover sitting in front of a computer? The caption read, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” Well, on the web, no one knows you’re a senior vice president either. That’s why every leader is going to have to learn how to get things done in a world where authority is the reciprocal of followership.
Today, we’re delighted to announce the ten winners of the Innovating Innovation Challenge, the first leg of this year’s HBR/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation. But first, we’d like to acknowledge, again, the 24 finalists , whose superb stories and hacks made for some wrenching decision making. A huge thank you to all of the challengers with the imagination and daring to take on the status quo—and the generosity to share what they’ve learned in the process.
As human beings, we are born with a creative impulse—with an innate desire to use our imagination to better the world around us. Yet, all too often, our organizations end up being less innovative than the people within them. The dozens of in-the-trenches innovators who responded to our Innovating Innovation Challenge embody the first assertion—and are working relentlessly and fearlessly to overturn the second.