Shh! It’s Vive La Résistance…A Case Study on Underground Resistance and Change Management

Nicholas D. Sweers II and I have authored a case study on the complexities of change management when underground resistance is present. The case study will appear in the Journal of Business Strategy.

This case study highlights the challenge of dealing with underground resistance when leading organizational change. Underground resistance has deterred many change management efforts. Moreover, strategies to address underground resistance are still at a nascent stage of development in management practice and literature. The case tells the story of Sam Bridgeport, a Senior Partner at a major consulting firm in Seattle, who has been charged with leading a restructuring effort that will significantly affect the everyday operations of the organization. Unlike past change management initiatives, which often failed, Sam was wise to encourage employee participation from the start. As a result, Sam was able to mitigate most of the opposition against his plan, but he soon finds out that he gravely underestimated the natural human tendency to resist change. Sam discovers a covert, underground resistance effort is quickly gaining steam, and he must put a stop to it before it’s too late.

Executive responses to the case study from Mark R. Jones, CEO, The Sunyata Group and George Head, Senior Vice President Broadband Services for Stratos Global will also be published.

Building Sustainable Collaborative and Open Innovation Programs – University of Ljubljana

I will be giving an invited lecture at the Raziskovalni center Ekonomske fakultete (Faculty of Economics) of the University of Ljubljana on February 15, 2010. My talk will focus on how organizations can design collaborative innovation programs.

Organizations cannot innovate in isolation. Ideas, knowledge, expertise, and processes needed for innovation are often distributed in the marketplace across a wide-assortment of actors from business partners, to customers, government agencies, and even competitors. Organizations have to find ways to collaborate and develop open, rather than closed, innovation programs. Collaboration calls for the ability to share required artifacts from ideas to knowledge and expertise, and even processes, with external entities. Being open requires an organization to unlock, and make available, its innovation process to external entities. Developing Collaborative and Open Innovation (COI) programs can be a daunting challenge. Issues such as ensuring trust, governance structures, rewards and incentives, and mechanisms for rent sharing from innovations can seem insurmountable. In this presentation, I will share actionable knowledge on how we can build sustainable COI programs. I will draw on research and consulting on designing organizational innovation programs in over 50 global organizations. I will share a framework for organizations that want to collaborate on innovation. This framework will outline methods for collaborative idea generation and mobilization, idea advocacy and screening, idea experimentation, idea commercialization, and idea diffusion and implementation. Examples will be used to illustrate how leading organizations collaborate with external entities for innovation and build open innovation programs that external entities can plug-into.

Building the UW X-Prize Lab

Along with Ann Bostrom and Sandy Archibald, I am developing the X-Prize Lab at UW. Our initial plan is to offer two courses through the Evans School of Public Affairs. The first course will examine prize-driven innovation. We have an assembled an amazing list of speakers, see our blog. In this course leading innovators and philanthropists will introduce the how prize philanthropy can foster innovation to solve global developmental challenges. The second course will focus on building prize concepts and proposals that solve complex policy challenges from water resource management to education.

To see the news release from the Evans School, please click here [LINK]
To learn more about the X-Prize Foundation, please click here [LINK]

Information Management and Environmental Sustainability: New Article in Business Information Review

Peter C. Ellis and I have a paper published in the current issue of Business Information Review.

Abstract: Attempting to merge the topics of environmental sustainability and information management, this article works towards defining both fields and constructing a viable framework that creates a strong relationship between the two topics. Reviewing literature on information management and environmental sustainability, the authors argue that the two topics must become inseparable — the work in one discipline must inform and advance the other. The need to do so is further underscored by the evolving nature of both disciplines.

To access the article, please click here [LINK]

Reference: Ellis, P.C., and Desouza, K.C. “On Information Management, Environmental Sustainability, and Cradle to Cradle Mentalities: A Relationship Framework,” Business Information Review, 26 (4), 2009, 257-264.

Information and Knowledge Management in Public Sector Networks: The Case of the US Intelligence Community

The current issue of the International Journal of lpadAdministration contains a paper that I authored on collaborative information and knowledge management. The paper is titled "Information and Knowledge Management in Public Sector Networks: The Case of the US Intelligence Community."

Abstract
This article contributes to the public management literature by exploring the critical challenges that underpin the construction of robust information and knowledge management strategies in networked settings. The ability of the network to sustain itself, thrive, and achieve its objectives depends on the success that the network has in organizing and coordinating its constituent organizations. The network's collaborative information and knowledge management strategy is critical to the functioning of the network and the achievement of objectives. A robust information and knowledge management strategy will bring organizations in the network together, help them share resources, collaborate on efforts, and further their objectives in a holistic manner. An inadequate information and knowledge management strategy might lead to disconnects in organizations due to lack of information sharing, poor collaborative knowledge generation, lack of coordination, leading to a fragmented network. Drawing on a multi-year, multi-method, and multi-organization study of the United States Intelligence Community (USIC), the article puts forth a comprehensive framework to examine information and knowledge management challenges within the USIC, as well as other public sector organizations.

Keywords: information management; knowledge management; public sector networks; intelligence agencies; intelligence community

To access the paper, please click [LINK]

Advocating and Screening for Ideas

If you have ideas, what should you do with them? How do you know which ideas to pursue (and which to abandon)? As an idea creator, how do you know which ideas will get the attention of managers or how to present ideas for consideration? As a manager, how do you screen the numerous ideas you get from your staff? These are not simple questions to answer. Unfortunately, this stage of the intrapreneurship process represents the Achilles' heel for most organizations. Too many organizations spend a lot of time, effort, and resources to get ideas from their employees but then do not know what to do with them. Equally discomforting are cases where employees spend too much time creating ideas for which there is no organizational interest or need. The end result is a lot of waste – from the individual to the organizational level.

Consider the case of a global technology organization. The organization, founded in the mid 1990s, had seen unprecedented growth during the Internet boom days. As one senior executive remarked, “we were not only running on all cylinders, but were actually borrowing cylinders and fuel rods to keep up with demand.” The organization grew from humble beginnings (3 students!) to just under 200 employees in five years. It now has 10 clients in US states and 3 international clients (based in London, Brussels, and Amsterdam). As soon as the glory days came to a screeching halt with the dot.com bust, the organization, like many of its compatriots in the industry, had to do some hard thinking to redefine business strategies. To this end, the organization solicited ideas from its employees concerning the company's direction for the future– the slogan – 10 for 10: 10 big ideas for the next 10 years! The goal was to get the firm to think big and to identify 10 broad areas that 1) they would want to invest and build capability in, 2) they would want to build collaborative capacities by reaching out to start-ups and established firms, and 3) they would require re-tuning (or complete obliteration) of their current strategic focus. The company did what any other organization would do; It solicited ideas from employees across all ranks. The company commissioned online “idea drop boxes.” Employees could send in their ideas via filling in a brief online questionnaire. Within a week, the company had over 500 ideas (about 2.5 ideas from each employee!); and by the end of the four week idea solicitation period they had captured over 1200 ideas (a little more than 6 ideas per employee!) As one executive remarked, “we underestimated the whole [idea solicitation] thing…employees were scared…their friends were losing jobs, companies like ours were closing, venture capitalist were getting tighter with the purse strings…all of this contributed to fear…employees wanted to help the company, and themselves, by sharing their best ideas that would not only keep us afloat but secure a better future…” This was the easy part-- getting ideas-- the big challenge ahead for the organization was what to do with these and how do to go about screening them. Over the course of the next five months, the firm tried its best to bubble up the best ideas through applying various screening procedures, getting comments and feedback on ideas from internal (i.e. employees), as well as external (i.e. board of directors, collaborators from academia, venture capitalist, etc), sources.

Unfortunately, the organization did not have a robust process for advocating and screening ideas. The end-result is best summarized by a statement made by the CEO – “absolute disaster…we ended up pissing off more staff than those we appeased, lost good employees who felt their ideas were not duly considered, and what hurts me most, is employees lost faith in the organization as a place that valued ideas…front-line programmers and system designers who are our most important assets felt ideas get promoted based on ones political network and clout…we all lost, I will never do this again…we might never recover the trust and camaraderie that we had prior to this undertaking.

The bad news for organizations is that the advocacy and screening stage of the intrapreneurship process is fraught with difficulties.

To learn how to build sustainable processes for idea advocacy and screening, please contact me (or wait for a future posting…or my new book)

CIOs to CIOs*: Chief Information to Chief Innovation Officers

I will be giving a presentation at SIMposium 09. The presentation titled, "CIOs to CIOs*: Chief Information to Chief Innovation Officers"draws on my three year investigation of innovation programs in global organizations. In this presentation, I plan to address the critical role CIOs plays in fostering organizational innovation. CIOs that embrace their role as Chief Innovation Officers, rather than being just Chief Information Officers, will thrive in today’s turbulent and highly competitive marketplace. The CIO* must transform his/her organization by using information, and information management capabilities, in innovative ways to enhance the innovation capacity of the organization.

Crafting Organizational Innovation Processes – Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice

Crafting Organizational Innovation Processes” appears in the current issue of Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice

I co-authored this paper with Caroline Dombrowski (The Information School, University of Washington), Yukika Awazu (McCallum Graduate School of Business, Bentley College), Peter Baloh (Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana), Sridhar Papagari (Dept of Information & Decision Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago), Jeffrey Y Kim (The Information School, University of Washington), and Sanjeev Jha (Dept of Information & Decision Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago).

Research for this paper was funded by the Institute for Innovation in Information Management, University of Washington as part of the Leveraging Ideas for Organizational Innovation research project.

Abstract
Innovation is a crucial component of business strategy, but the process of innovation may seem difficult to manage. To plan organizational initiatives around innovation or to bolster innovation requires a firm grasp of the innovation process. Few organizations have transparently defined such a process. Based on the findings of an exploratory study of over 30 US and European companies that have robust innovation processes, this paper breaks down the innovation process into discrete stages: idea generation and mobilization, screening and advocacy, experimentation, commercialization, and diffusion and implementation. For each stage, context, outputs and critical ingredients are discussed. There are several common tensions and concerns at each stage, which are enumerated; industry examples are also given. Finally, strategies for and indicators of organizational success around innovation are discussed for each stage. Successful organizations will use an outlined innovation process to create a common framework for discussion and initiatives around the innovation process, and to establish metrics and goals for each stage of the innovation process.

Securing Information Assets – Business Information Review

I have a new article published in Business Information Review (LINK).

In today’s competitive environment, organizations succeed or fail based on how well they manage information. To address this reality, organizations spend millions, if not billions, on securing their information advantages. New information technologies and methodologies are adopted, while old ones are dismantled or upgraded. To win, the information manager must constantly seek to outperform his or her competition. In this article the author asks how he or she does it? Perhaps by acquiring the best new technologies, hiring the most intelligent information professionals, and continuously keeping a watchful eye on the future. But, he asks, does having the best information, the best information systems, and the best information professionals, really pay off? Is there victory in sight? Or, is this just a continuous game with no clear winners? [To read more…LINK]

Desouza, K.C. “Securing Information Assets: The Great Information Game,” Business Information Review, 26 (1), 35-41.

P.S. The journal contains a brief feature on my background and research interest. See “Contributor Profile,” Business Information Review, 26 (1), 42-43.

Harvard Business Review Polska – Outsourcing

I was interviewed by Harvard Business Review Polska on the future of outsourcing. The interview was conducted in conjunction with the launching of the Polish Edition of The Outsourcing Handbook (Kogan Page, 2006). The Polish Edition was released in 2008 - Outsourcing: Podr?cznik sprawdzonych praktyk, Warsaw, Poland: Wydawnictwo MT Biznes.

The interview appears in the January issue of Harvard Business Review Polska. I was also quoted in the “10 pu?apek projektów outsourcingowych,” which appears in the same issue.