Gary Hamel on Corporate Inertia


Management and strategy guru Gary Hamel has a great post up on WSJ.com on how inertia can kill even the greatest of companies.

In it, Hamel recalls his previous post, where he described managerial problems in churches, and follows with a gem for business leaders:

What's true for churches is true for other institutions: the older and more organized they get, the less adaptable they become. That's why the most resilient things in our world--biological life, stock markets, the Internet--are loosely organized.

To thrive in turbulent times, organizations must become a bit more disorganized--less buttoned down, less uptight, less compulsive, less anal.

There are lessons in there for IT leaders, as well. Many CIOs I've spoken with recently have talked about how they're trying to jump-start their innovation engines and get back to many top IT priorities following a year that kept them stuck in neutral.

Yes, the economy caused this form of inertia. The question is, how quickly can CIOs accelerate their IT operations from coping with the recession to powering into the inevitable upturn?

It's clear that many companies were all the things Hamel says they shouldn't be. That causes quite a conundrum when the good times return.

Before the downturn, benchmarking pioneer Howard Rubin told us how much it would cost companies to catch up if they failed to invest in tough times. Plenty of CIOs--whether hamstrung by spending constraints or shifting priorities of the business--will soon be living in this harsh reality (if they're not there already).

Is corporate inertia affecting the way your IT organization operates? Or have you been able to find opportunities in the recession to move the business ahead? Your responses are greatly encouraged--we'll be analyzing this issue in the near future, and your input can help us take the temperature of the IT community at large.

More from Hamel on CIOInsight.com: Strategist Gary Hamel Re-Imagines Management


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