Last week saw me traveling, which means I had some time to do a little airplane reading. I had the July/August edition of the Harvard Business Review with me and read a few thought-provoking articles. The first is titled “The Execution Trap.” A lot of good thoughts but the main thread is that there should not be an organizational hierarchy when it comes to the segregation of strategy and execution. In fact, segregation is the problem — employees at every level of the organization should feel empowered to drive strategy as well as execution. Strategy should not be the exclusive domain of executives, but should permeate the entire organization. We should all strive to build cultures that promote the extinction of the “choiceless-doer” (author’s term), i.e. the individual contributor that simply executes what they are told. Here, here.
The second article, “Stop the Innovation Wars,” in some ways takes an alternate perspective. The authors advocate that driving innovation demands the creation of “innovation teams” that are chartered to break new ground. These teams then propagate their innovations into the core operations (or “performance engines”) of the firm to bring the innovation to life.
Should innovation be more like strategy as in the first article? Shouldn’t innovation exist in every aspect and every employee in the firm? I tend to think so, but there are some examples in the second article that show that the “teams” approach has merit.
Interesting reading, check out these articles if you get the chance and let me know what you think.