The Ambidextrous Organization

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  • Knowledge nugget
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Ideal innovation phases for this method:
  1. Innovation Phase
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Today Ambidextrous Organizations are mostly more successful than others. To explain this, we compare companies in the field of innovation strategy with various orchestral forms from music. There are two basic corporate structures: that of the orchestra and that of a jazz combo.

The orchestra plays according to the instructions of a conductor. He sets the beat and the musicians follow it. He determines who plays which instrument and who plays the solos. Roles and tasks are clearly distributed and must "sit".

The longer you rehearse in this formalized setup, the more perfect and efficient the result will be. The conductor has every single musician in his sights (side note: he stands with his back to the audience).

The jazz combo is fundamentally different from the orchestra. The musicians have all freedoms and can "let off steam" creatively. Each member of the group has a fixed role; however, how and where he uses his role is left to him - it resembles a creative-chaotic process. New ideas and innovations are expected as a result of the interaction.

Both forms captivate exclusively in their own expertise: the orchestra masters the complicated interplay in perfection, the jazz combo can easily improvise and produce creativity.
Transferred to a company, this means that "jazz combo organizations" find it easy to find new ideas, business fields and markets, "orchestra organizations" have learned to exist in existing markets.

Today, a company must mix both organizational forms in order to be successful in the long term. Those who manage to manage their company efficiently AND breathe creative-chaotic wind into it are prepared for the future.

According to the orchestra strategy, the established business areas should be managed; the competitive advantage is achieved through many years of experience and internalized, professional processes. At the same time, dynamic, smaller units are also engaged in new areas of business. If these are discovered and established at some point, the orchestral principle takes hold here again.
  • Effective for all innovation types
  • Effective for disruptive innovations
  • Effective for highly complex challenges
  • Effective for incremental innovations and improvements
  • Effective for low complex challenges
  • Effective for medium complex challenges
  • Effective for radical innovations
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