LCOR Webinar

This past week, I participated in an LCOR Alumni Webinar with my colleagues Professor Charles O’Reilly and Andy Binns. Participants raised some excellent questions ranging from how to overcome resistance to the increased importance of crowd sourcing. For those of you who were unable to attend, I’ve included some of the more provocative questions here:

Q1)  There are many sources of resistance. But the one that I encounter which I find difficult to tackle, is stealth resistance, meaning paying lip service, but actually doing things that effectively sabotage the change effort. And this goes across all levels: from staff to senior management. Love to hear your comments / suggestions on how to deal with this.

A1) Stealth resistance is the worst kind. On one hand, you go into a meeting, and people nod their heads and say, “Yes, I’m supportive,” and then they go and they either drag their feet or actively resist.  One of the potential solutions is to shorten the feedback loop by asking people to provide a deliverable/result.  It will become pretty clear that those who are not delivering are likely the ones resisting.

Q2) One of the examples used in 2012 session of LCOR at Stanford was crowd sourcing. We found a selective implementation of this idea as one of the ways to change direction in the face on institutional inertia. Much of the work still remains, but it gave us a great start. Could you say a few words about how crowd sourcing contributes to Ambidexterity?

A2) This is a big deal.  The locus of innovation, in many industries and in many conditions, is shifting to the web.  It brings the cost of innovation down, and the extent to which you can deal with identity and cultural issues in collaborating with the crowd, the more effective, and less expensive the innovation can be.  It brings this topic of Ambidexterity to a different level where you have to build different business models within the firm and outside of the firm.

Q3)  Back in 2009, we discussed the “so what’s next” question, i.e. what would companies do once they have moved towards a more customer-centric culture? We said that the next phases for an organization would be about 1) shrinking the core (strategic outsourcing) and 2) expanding the periphery. Did you expand on these recommendations? Do you have any other insights?

A3) Actually, I disagree with the idea of shrinking the core. At Harvard and at Stanford, for example, we’re dealing with the implications of web-based learning.  Our challenge is not to shrink the core–the core here being research–but to strengthen the core.  If we don’t do great research, we don’t have anything to offer.  We need to bolster the core, and work at the periphery because we cannot do it alone.  The Harvard/Stanford collaboration is a great example.  Our challenge is not to shrink the core, but to strengthen the core.

If you have further questions, or would like to continue the discussion, please post in the comments section.


Professor at Harvard Business School and co-founder of Change Logic, a strategic execution consultancy based in Boston, MA.

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