Reduce Downsizing Pain
Cutbacks don’t have to cripple creativity and innovation, Harvard Business School professor Teresa M. Amabile reported in the Summer 1995 CIMS TMR.
CIMS-sponsored research she conducted with Regina Conti demonstrated three actions managers could take to at least alleviate the negative effects of downsizing:
• Keep your most creative work groups intact.
• Communicate fully and fast with all your employees.
• Get the downsizing/restructuring process over with as quickly as possible.
See their 1996 CIMS report “Changes in the Work Environment for Creativity During Restructuring” for more.
Make Your Alliance Work
More than half of new alliances disappoint their founders. Researching ways to improve the chances of success, Rutgers University professors Varghese George and George Farris made these recommendations in Spring 2003
• Match the alliance to the long-term strategic direction of the entire company.
• At the outset, pay more attention to strategy, organization, technology, and the market than to financial and legal due diligence.
• Match alliance goals to the individual alliance stages.
• Provide help to people in the different partner organizations.
• Make sure there’s communication across all levels of the organization.
• Complete each alliance stage quickly and efficiently before moving to the next.
• Offer incentives/rewards for coping with the complexity of the alliance.
• Involve the operational managers early.
See George and Farris’s 2002 report, “Performance of Alliances: Formative Stages and Changing Organizational and Environmental Influences,” for more.
Discontinuous, or breakthrough, innovation is “an unnatural act” for most businesses, Joseph G. Morone told readers of CIMS TMR 3, 1997. From research he and colleagues conducted at Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute, he asserted that breakthrough innovation “will only occur with deliberate, sustained effort that is protected by senior management.”
Moreover, “because such projects will always encounter nasty surprises and setbacks, senior management will inevitably question their existence unless there is strategic alignment and unless the technical promise is evident.”
Then in its first two years, Morone’s research evolved into a long-running RPI project whose results were published by Gina Colarelli O’Connor and her Radical Innovation Research Program team in Grabbing Lightning: Building a Capability for Breakthrough Innovation(Jossey-Bass, 2008).
Make Your Virtual Team Work
It takes strong, hands-on leadership to make a virtual team work. That’s the conclusion Susan G. Cohen and Cristina B. Gibson came to from the CIMS-sponsored research they reported in the Fall 2000 CIMS TMR. The two UCLA business professors offered team leaders the following advice:
• Thoroughly understand a team’s deliverables and the expectations of its customers
• Understand the agendas and priorities of every team member and stakeholder.
• Understand what motivates those stakeholders and team members.
• Monitor progress of each agenda item and fulfillment of each deliverable or expectation.
• Celebrate every success, major or minor.
• Finally, make certain you hold an initial face-to-face meeting with “team chartering” at top of agenda. Help the team develop a shared understanding of outcomes and how to achieve them.
See Cohen and Gibson’s 2002 CIMS report “Investigating Virtual Enabling Conditions in Knowledge-Based Enterprises” for more.