Being ambi-dextrous – order and chaos

The value of ‘order’ is product confidence, consistency, quality, regulation conformance and controlled change.  The world of management is awash with ideas about increasing order and control.  Our challenge is that disruption tends not to be well ordered or controlled.  In fact, it seems like the opposite.  Nokia seemed to have had the global handset market wrapped up until the smart phone.  Nokia were great innovators, but not great enough.

Business disruption looks more like chaos.  Thousands of new products and services fail – so how can we pick the winners?  Creativity is not well ordered and it challenges the status quo.  Disruptors may not be the easiest colleagues to work with – they challenge our beliefs and question our ‘common-sense’.  Innovation rates in large businesses seem to be declining, the vibrant business start up sector seems so much better at embracing the disruptives and creating the new.

This edition of  The OE is all about how we can manage to do both.  It’s not an option. All that we know about how businesses are changing requires us to be able to manage both, the order and the chaos to become the ‘Ambi-Dextrous Organisation’.

  • In the “Journey to Ambi-Dexterity”, Mark Goodridge addresses how we can increase our probabilities of being successfully disruptive.  Leadership becomes plural leadership, the capability to manage different teams in different ways – uncomfortable where the disciplines of conformance and consistency have been long established.
  • Ann Gammie draws on her experience of working in the pharma industry.  The move away from hierarchy is enabling greater collaboration and a focus on the new.
  • Gary Ashton picks up the organisation theme beyond the familiar structure and looks at networks, power, autonomy and control.  The ambi-dextrous organisation needs to work with different powers and different controls in different parts of its business.
  • Mark Brown introduces us to his eight shades of failure.  The certainty of order and consistency makes it all the harder for us to accept and manage failure. Failure is inevitable, innovation is inherently risky (where a risk is a low probability of a great success).
  • Our case study picks up a live example of a business developing towards ambi-dexterity in City and Guilds, the global leader in skills development.

Together we have developed a set of tools and techniques to help our clients navigate the path towards being ambi-dextrous.  It is not a comfortable ride.  It creates tension, contested spaces and above all, challenges how many folk feel they should manage and be managed.  It creates a cycle of business renewal that has been so well demonstrated by Apple and Google with the perils of not doing so seen in Nokia and Dell.

We hope you find this edition interesting, challenging and useful. As always, we welcome your feedback.

Martyn Sakol