Experimentation and Innovating Management Models Key to Survival

Friday, 3 July 2009

"Investment in innovation is your lifeblood, so it should be cut only as a last resort. The evidence from past recessions is that many highly successful innovations came when the recession was at its worst. Necessity is the mother of invention". This was the message from international thought leader on international management and strategy, Professor Julian Birkinshaw, who spoke at the recent InterTradeIreland Innovation conference hosted by the Centre of Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) at NUI Galway. Professor Birkinshaw is co-founder and research director of the Management Lab (M-Lab), a non-profit organisation based in California working to accelerate management innovation, and Professor of Strategic and International Management at London Business School. During a presentation called 'Innovating your Management Model: Developing New and Better Ways of Working', Professor Birkinshaw argued that the current economic crisis was a failure of management. He said the current model of management is flawed through an over emphasis on the role of leader and not the managers within firms. New ideas are emerging about how management is changing and he commented that "to survive and prosper firms need to innovate their current management models to sustain their competitive momentum". The 164 delegates at the conference heard that innovation is not limited to introducing new technologies but that companies should also focus on business and management model innovation. These forms of innovation, he argued, have the highest impact on competitiveness particularly as they are difficult to imitate since they are specific and unique to individual companies. Summing up his three basic rules to approaching innovation in the current climate, Professor Birkinshaw said: "First, innovation applies to how you work as well as to the products you make, and new or better ways of working can actually save you money. Second, make more use of partners as a source of new ideas. Third, become more experimental about what you do – see what works, learn from your mistakes and only scale up when you are confident of success". InterTradeIreland Strategy & Policy Director Aidan Gough said: "This conference explored the challenge of delivering innovation for the smart economy. Innovation is more important than ever in the current climate and can make the difference between mere survival and growth. Professor Birkinshaw provided insights into how embedding innovation into the overall management process can drive success". Professor Birkinshaw's lectures at NUI Galway were part of the InterTradeIreland All-Island Innovation Programme. The Programme, a partnership between InterTradeIreland, NUI Galway, University College Dublin and Queens University Belfast, aims to promote and encourage innovation across the island of Ireland. The All-Island Innovation Programme is complemented by a Community of Researchers working on innovation across the island.
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