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The Corporate World: Permission

The opposite of control is permission, which means being able to make decisions and act without having to check with upper management. Managers need the freedom to take risks and explore new solutions. But to give permission is to give up control, so it’s hard for people to do, even when they say they’re going to do it. It’s always something of a challenge to strike the right balance between control and permission, but it’s important to find this balance.


15 reads


How To Make Company Changes Work

  • Determine what to measure and control. Each level must be empowered to make the change.
  • Measure and control the right things. Don’t exert power just because you can.
  • Make information systems as flexible as possible. Try to be nimble.
  • Give greater permission to experim...


23 reads

Living In A Constant State Of Flux

People should structure their lives so they have the tools to be professionally successful in a world of constant change. They should aspire to continuous education. They should be ready to make changes in their career direction as needed.

Like innovation, destruction can be incremental, su...


15 reads

The Gale of Destruction

Change requires us to change our mental models. But it can take companies a long time to overcome cultural lock in. Adjusting to corporate change is like adjusting to terminal illness — the psychological process is similar. There is a sequence of emotions, including denial, anger, bargaining, dep...


20 reads

Balancing Destruction and Creation

Companies mostly start out full of creative energy. Eventually they become more rational and make decisions based on careful analysis. At some point, however, they slip into denial that prevents them from seeing that they are becoming uncompetitive. But this trajectory isn’t inevitable. Some comp...


17 reads

Continuity Vs Discontinuity

Companies think the name of the game is continuity when they should really embrace discontinuity. The trick is to balance continuity and change, pursue destruction and creation at the same time. It’s hard to get the balance right, and people in the company, the board and the shareholders will res...


18 reads

Designed to Change

To survive in this rapidly changing environment, companies must act like the market. Not only do they have to change as quickly as the market, but they also must broaden the decision making processes to include more of the collective wisdom of the company. Companies should sustain multiple mental...


11 reads

Change Vs Continuity

If change is considered more valuable than continuity, then change will happen. If it’s believed that change will bring less value, then continuity is embraced. Many corporations follow this path. If the values of change and continuity are perceived to be roughly equal, then the tendency is to f...


10 reads

The Corporate World: Control Systems

Corporations have all kinds of control systems, elements that make sure things stay on track (for example, rules and processes, standards, checklists). The control systems in a company can be complex, and can sometimes come in conflict with one another. Control systems can also inhibit performanc...


10 reads

The Different Kinds Of Innovation

  • Transformational innovation is the harbinger of major and permanent change.
  • Substantial innovation leads to great big changes, but it is not as groundbreaking as transformational changes. Sometimes substantial innovation comes after transformational innovation, like tremors after an ...


27 reads

Discovery Using Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinking is a process of immersion in details. The situation is broken into its smallest components to find novel ways of bringing the pieces back together again — or perhaps to switch some of the components for new ones.

Creativity is the foundation of all innovation, and the en...


19 reads

Real-World Research

To prepare the team for discussion on one of the issues presented, you might need to do some fairly deep research. For example, managers at Nike go to basketball games or visit schools and meet street basketball players. These activities allow them to understand the needs of their customers so th...


12 reads

Discussions To Enable Innovation

There are several tactics that can be used to help stimulate discussion. For example, you can change the context, looking at the problem from a different angle. One way to do this is by including a mix of participants with unique perspectives, perhaps inviting managers from different divisions or...


11 reads

How Creative Destruction Works

There are any number of causes for discontinuity. Basically, change happens. Change is not new, but the rate of change has been accelerating in the past 90 years or so.

Creative disruption is inherent to capitalism. Discontinuities create under and over performance. Companies need to keep u...


57 reads

Leading Creative Destruction

Management committees are often dominated by routine. They believe their mission is to keep operations running smoothly. They look at proposals for new ideas that are brought to them, but they don’t come up with any initiatives of their own.

Managers need to understand the environment in or...


12 reads

The Four Stages Of A Company

  • Foundation: Newly founded companies are focused on opportunity.
  • Growth: Companies that survive the foundation stage usually see rapid growth.
  • Dominate: A company will, by and large, be considered successful by those outs...


33 reads

Discovery Using Divergent Thinking

There are two ways to discover things: divergent thinking and convergent thinking. 

Divergent thinking means zooming out to look at the big picture, examining the entire context of a problem. This process includes three phases.

  • First, search for inconsistencies between current th...


25 reads

Cultural Lock-In

Mental models are the biggest obstacle to change. While such models are useful, they can be liabilities. Our model of the world is based on experience, meaning it is backward looking. When change happens, we are working from old models. So sometimes we have to change our models. It can be hard to...


45 reads

The Decision Making Process

The decision making process includes elements like planning systems, calendar management, agenda setting, decision criteria and so forth. These systems need to be consistent with mental models. For example, consumer retailers typically make decisions based on seasonal considerations, deciding whe...


36 reads

Control Processes

Control processes include things like operational control processes, compensation systems and capital allocation. A company with slim margins will strive to control costs on a day-to-day basis. A company that relies on innovation is likely to give more rein to engineers and scientists as they dev...


21 reads

Survival and Performance in the Era of Discontinuity

Survival and Performance in the Era of Discontinuity

Of all the companies listed on the Forbes 100 list in 1917, 61 of them no longer existed 70 years later. Only 18 companies had managed to stay in the top 100, and none of these 18 were very good performers. Looking at the S&P 500 over the last 50 years shows similar results: few companies sur...


259 reads

Operating Vs. Creating

Since the dawn of the first industrial revolution, companies spend their energy and other resources on production, logistics, selling and billing. These are the activities that are supposed to make the company run smoothly.

Managers are focused on operations, sometimes because they don’t k...


24 reads

Increasing Creation by Tenfold

Established companies that want to stay innovative must master divergent thinking. This is the key to creativity. The objective is to find new ideas at the pace and scale of the market. It’s a process of discovering unmet needs and potential solutions. And it helps to look to the periphery for ne...


12 reads

Clinging To The Old Ways

Managers think the challenge lies in keeping their existing operations running smoothly while fostering an environment where new ideas can flourish and old ideas can be put down. But they cling too tightly to the idea of continuity.

Some companies won’t make needed changes even when there a...


61 reads




Education officer at museum

Corporations need to change at the pace and scale of the capital markets in order to stay competitive. This is accomplished not only by creating new businesses and products, but also through paring off functions that no longer facilitate growth.

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