Famed physicist Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute hypothesized that corporations begin to die when they reach the level of 50 to 100 employees because they become dominated by bureaucracy that kills creativity and innovation. In effect, he is skeptical that big companies can prevent the “physics of stability” from killing innovation. Most management theorists have thrown up their hands and concluded that an organization either has to segregate its innovation activities from its execution activities, or in the alternative, change organizational design from execution dominance to innovation dominance when innovation is needed.
The management challenge facing U.S. companies is to deal with these realities and better manage the inherent inconsistencies, conflicts, and tensions between operational excellence and innovation. Yes, the bigger you get the slower you get — the less agile you are and the more likely you have to buy your innovation. But there are many companies that fight this reality by first recognizing that the “physics of stability” is different from the “physics of growth.” Learning is the bridge that connects operational excellence and innovation.
A learning culture with different learning processes and tolerances for failure, for innovation, and for operational excellence is the answer. Empower and create small innovation teams. Protect those teams from the dominance of the “no-variance” operational excellence mindset. Create a safe zone where experimentation failures are learning opportunities. Do not punish failures; instead, celebrate the learning that comes from trying. And finally, understand that growth experimentation is a probability game, and the sooner you get customers actively engaged in your experimentation game, the more likely you will win.
As companies broaden their global reach, an important consideration is staying connected with partners and customers. Here are seven key tips to consider when choosing a new service for your organization. ... More >>