Companies seem to continually be on the lookout for the next new management practice that promises to improve organizational effectiveness. In this effort, they all too often look to emulate other companies that have implemented successful managerial innovations. However, this tendency can be very risky, costly, and demoralizing. What works well for one organization could be very dysfunctional in another. This is because organizations are often very different from one another, and those differences can derail even the most enticing innovation.
There are basically two methods companies use to integrate new ideas into their organizations:
- The observe and apply approach, which works well when companies are very similar to one another and their management practices consist of just a few standalone steps.
- The extract the central idea approach, which removes all the contextual issues that make organizations different from one another (such as size, organizational structure, and culture). This approach seeks to capture the key principles behind the practice then apply them in a way that easily fits within the organization.
Any organization looking to make a change should first develop a strong sense of corporate self-awareness, then adhere to the following structured process for evaluating and implementing the change:
- Take the time to observe the practice in other companies first.
- Perform a thorough analysis of the essence of the practice.
- Understand the hypothesis behind the practice.
- Analyze the results other companies have achieved with the practice.
- Experiment in-house.