Friday 6 February 2009

Innovating in the downturn


   A great article in this week's FT report, Managing in a Downturn: The time is ripe for fresh ideas, by Lynda Gratton.  Linked to my previous post, Gratton suggests that the recession may provide the ideal time for the sort of major readjustments that businesses may now need to make:

"Historically a downturn has been a time when business models, organisational structures, labour markets and employee contracts come under immense strain. Accepted wisdoms are challenged and this break in thinking can result in the adoption of new practices and the adoption of new habits and skills. These pressures and fissures – while difficult at the time – can yield fresh ideas, engaging experiments and interesting adaptations in the long run.

This is important because while many managers are adept at innovating products and services, few have been adept at innovating the practice of management itself. As a consequence, businesses are often cluttered with increasingly outdated ways of managing: performance management processes that were invented in the 1950s; notions of leadership that go back to the command control of the second world war; and meeting protocols that have not changed for decades. At the same time, potential innovations such as virtual team technology are left unheeded."


Gratton suggests that two of the changes which might be needed are wider distribution of leadership and creating flexible virtual teams.  I think Gary Hamel's 25 priorities fit with this too (I'm very shortly going to be reviewing this on my Social business blog).

What do you think - are businesses going to fundamentally change in the global reset? - please comment or respond to my poll - top right of this blog.  Thanks!



Photo credit: Florian Prischl

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  1. As mentioned in the post "Businesses are often cluttered with increasingly outdated ways of managing", it is true. A big change is needed, the way Business treats its secrets, especially financial books, the way captains are chosen to helm the business (because of recent CEO failures), the way employees manage their finance (because of foreclosures), and the way salaries and profits are distributed. The change is needed.

    But would it happen or not, is still a big question? The bigger question is - do people who can make this change want it or need it? Business are still running...Bigger majority of citizens are still are happening...

    I think "Yes, but only to a small extent", just to repair the damages.

  2. I think more companies will be working with contractors in virtual teams. More people are striking out on their own, whether by necessity (laid off) or choice (largely motivated by fear, unrest and distrust of employers). Comments at Awake@the Wheel support this. This period will go down as the "Golden Age of the Internet" for many reasons, including the way it revolutionized the workplace.

    Hayli M.,


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