OE Cam hosted breakfast at The Shard on Tuesday 17th March.  We welcomed Directors from a diverse group of organisations: Anchor Trust, Beazley Group, Comic Relief, Dulwich College, eBay, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, John Lewis, Napp Pharma, Pinsent Masons, PRS for Music, Richmond Housing Partnership, RSA Insurance and Saint-Gobain.

The theme of our discussion was the ‘Ambi-dextrous Organisation‘.  When you say you run ‘one’ successful organisation, you are most probably running ‘two’ organisations – one maintaining coherence and control, the other driving experimentation, creativity and innovation.  This two-tone, two-flavour culture has implications for leadership, selection, organisational design and compensation.

Our first guest speaker, Mark Brown from The Dolphin Index introduced us to the idea that every organisation needs capability along the whole of the ‘Creativity-Control Continuum’:


  • OD – Don’t!  Enforce essential injunctions and prohibitions
  • 1D – Do run the organisation efficiently to delight the customer and other stakeholders
  • 2D – Do everything you do better to delight the customer and other stakeholders
  • 3D –  Do different and new things to delight the customer and other stakeholders
  • 4D – Game Over!  Watch out for tsunamic shifts that may obliterate your business or organisation.

Depending on what is happening in the organisation’s environment you can decide how much of each ‘D’ you need.

Without the right hand of control you may well die today.  Without the left hand of creativity you may well die tomorrow…

Our second speaker, our own Mark Goodridge looked at the challenge for organisations to be good at both ‘driving business as usual’ alongside the ‘creation of a new order of things’.  The challenge is that we need both – the ambi-dextrous organisation that can work with right and left, creative and mass productive.  Mark explained that creating greater ambi-dexterity can be addressed through four dimensions: Leading, Changing Mindsets, Organising and Performing.  For more information, please read his latest article “The Journey to Ambi-dexterity” from the OE Journal.

The tensions of living with different ways of working alongside one another are too great… the overwhelming influence of order and governance has squeezed out some of the creative juices

As well as jumping in and out of boxes, whistling and marching, attendees discussed what ambidexterity meant for their organisation and explored ways in which to overcome the challenges…

For more information about how to become an Ambi-dextrous Organisation, please contact mark.goodridge@oecam.com.  To receive a copy of the debate summary, please email Helen at helen.pybus@oecam.com