Get the flexibility to take initiatives, innovate at all levels and at the same time thrive at what you are already good at. Sounds too good to be true? Bruce Harreld, Faculty Chair at Harvard, is all for that way of operating. He will tell you why in this really short video:
Simply put it’s not enough to look at what you are already good at and ignore potential new areas. Ambidextrous individuals hence drive leadership and take initiatives beyond the confines of their job.
When companies are ambidextrous they are able to adapt to new opportunities and at the same time have alignment around their existing activities. And, this is crucial, they allow leadership to emerge from all levels in the organisation.
Common sense – but frequently ignored
The economic crisis has had a positive impact on ambidexterity. More companies, and people, understand that they have to think outside the box. Just throwing resources at problems is being replaced by a leaner more staged way of problem solving. Lack of resources actually increase creativity and people become more innovative. Provided they are allow to.
Ambidextrous people drive new initiatives
Some scholars as well as practitioners argue that many established companies simply lack the flexibility to explore new territories. And that’s where having ambidexterity come in. Come to think of it, most companies have a lot to learn from Sir Richard Branson who actually personifies ambidexterity.
Have never understood why, but companies, and people for that matter, get so stuck in their ways they don’t see the wood for the trees. Thinking outside the box is essential and it’s interesting to note that a top university like Harvard feel there is a need to give courses in how to do so. If you are an innovative person that will not be necessary, but there is obviously a demand from people who need to broaden their horizons. Harvard’s target group for the course may actually be leaders that cannot delegate? Having spent too long in a hierarchical system such leaders probably find it hard to accept leadership driven from all levels in the organisation?
Are you ambidextrous? Do you agree with Bruce Herrald, and me, that it’s propitious to have ambidextrous strategies? Is ambidexterity the way you and your organisation develop? Have you found that lack of resources makes you more creative? Does it give you flexibility and make you look into new areas you would otherwise have overlooked? Are ambidextrous people and organisations smarter? If you haven’t already, are you building an ambidextrous organisation that allows for initiatives, stimulate individuals to stretch themselves and drive leadership? Or maybe you are turning yourself into an ambidextrous person by driving new initiatives as well as your existing activities? Do you agree that in an increasingly global market ambidexterity is the way forward?
Video: HBSExecEd – Picture: Nick Webb