Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hang on Loosely?

Instead of providing answers, this week’s readings have me questioning my decision-making ability more than ever.  I hope that’s a good thing; or at least not a bad thing. This quote from Innovator’s Dilemma has been especially frustrating:  Traditional good management practices can lead to failure.

If good management practice drives the failure of successful firms faced with disruptive technological change, then the usual answers to companies’ problems—planning better, working harder, becoming more customer- driven, and taking a longer-term perspective—all exacerbate the problem.

My general way of thinking would be more along the line of ‘double down’ on strategy.  We made a decision and now we’ll see it though:  Plan your work now work your plan.  

That seems to be in direct opposition to the lessons provided in the three articles, Innovator’s Dilemma, Discovering New and Emerging Markets, and Blue Ocean strategy.   With that said, would the alternative to “doubling down” be to “hold on loosely”? 

And if so, how can we leave space to embrace the unknown, the unexpected, of potential disruptive technologies?

Is management given the opportunity to fail?  Or must failure always equate fired?  And how does that help or harm the long-term health of an organization if there’s not the ‘space to fail?’

With only so much capacity and resources, how can one justify spreading resources thin especially when the “plan” looks like it will work?  And how does one convince others of the need for a looser grip on planning and expectation?   Can someone create a Blue Ocean without the huge looming possibility of failure? 

Which now brings me to Blue Oceans.  I love the idea of creating a new market free from competition, and apparently so do many HBR readers.  Seems like the Blue Ocean exists as a sort of ivory tower; An ideal to strive toward, but given the wall of the unknown, unproven, and untestable, how can management create the space for this way of thinking within their existing organization?  

By listing out the theory and the practice, I have more insight into what a blue ocean is and how one can be created.  Interestingly, most blue oceans listed are based on value pioneering as opposed to pioneering technology. Though it’s noted that some of many of the value pioneering is associated with pioneering technology.


Finally, looking at how to apply Blue Ocean strategic move of Never use the competition as the benchmark rule:  I’ve been guilty of this.  When I first stepped into my current position, I surveyed the perceived competition to set somewhat superficial goals for my organization, specifically looking at operating budgets, programming, social media influence, attendance, etc.   As I’ve grown more familiar with my role, I now look forward instead of sideways – not quite sure I’d refer to that as searching for the blue ocean though.  

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