Rating

9

Qualities

  • Innovative
  • Applicable

Recommendation

Professors Manuel Hensmans, Gerry Johnson and George Yip spent five years on this in-depth study of corporate strategic transformation. They chose three UK companies as models of successful transition and three others that succumbed to a degree of “corporate drift.” They identify three basic strategic concepts and four essential traditions embraced by companies that successfully changed. They emphasize the value of corporate history, measured conflict and alternate coalitions. As a company dodges an onrushing disaster, another crisis looms and then another, but the successful organization morphs and profits all the while. The authors discuss the tactical significance of company traditions, founding principles and fluidity in a chaotic world. getAbstract appreciates their solid, groundbreaking views, as will planners, change theorists and executives wise enough to know that a potentially crushing threat awaits just over the horizon.

Summary

The Paradox of Change

The precise components of effective corporate transition can’t be pinned down with certainty. History offers many enterprises at the top of their game that stumbled and fell into crisis, victims of “strategic drift.” Others reinvent themselves, seemingly without missing a beat. Managers of the less-successful companies – devoted to “the way we do it” – can be slow to recognize coming change. Or their company may be dealing with in-house personnel conflicts or refusing to act in advance of impending disaster.

One powerful consideration is an organization’s history. Your firm’s record and culture provide a foundation of experience for addressing the challenges of the future. Meet those challenges by creating a fluid organization, something like a social network, as a step forward. Forward-looking strategic concepts emerge from three contexts: “pluralistic,” which is welcoming and accepting of different views; “experimental,” which puts ideas into play as a source of learning; and “tolerant,” which accepts not only the new, but sometimes even the erroneous.

When your company must weather transformation, having sound leaders helps. Such leaders...

About the Authors

Manuel Hensmans teaches strategic management at Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, ULB. Gerry Johnson is emeritus professor of strategic management at Lancaster University School of Management. George Yip teaches management and is co-director of the Centre of China Innovation at the China Europe International Business School.


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