Many European companies have failed to generate organic growth. It’s not that growth isn’t important or that there isn’t any money to invest. The problem is that the methods used to guide a new innovation down the road from just an idea into a real pile of money are so limited. A corporate manager traditionally takes only two different options into account: Either do it in-house or throw a lot of money at established companies and their teams. I’m familiar with both paradigms – as both a buyer and a seller – and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes as both.
In larger organizations the work involves many leadership challenges; the biggest being the ability to identify the hungriest frontline teams. In my own NO FEAR experience this is especially hard if your vantage point is at the top of the organizational pyramid. A superficial way of doing this involves all manner of innovation processes and even competitions. The thing is, all organizations include people who are not comfortable speaking up about their ideas. The identification process is also hampered by the friction and inertia that exists between middle management and other organizational levels. This is an organizational swamp in which thousands of brilliant growth-spurring ideas drown every year.
Our contributing author Bill Fischer is Professor of Innovation Management at IMD, in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is what in past times might’ve been called an “old China hand”, since he has worked various assignments in the country since 1980. His most recent book, ” Reinventing Giants” [co-authored with Umberto Lago and Fang Liu] deals with Chinese home appliances manufacturer Haier Group’s innovative approach to management.
It may well turn out to be one of the most significant books written about management in recent years. So we took this opportunity to conduct an interview with our esteemed co-author on the key factors he discusses in his new book.
Haier Group is a Chinese multinational consumer electronics and home appliances company. In 2011 the Haier brand’s market share in white goods was 7.8. percent, the largest in the world. The company’s roots reach back to a refrigerator factory founded in the 1920s. The current CEO Zhang Ruimin was appointed to run and turn around the then struggling enterprise in 1984.
I just watched a hockey game where Mother Russia was decisively defeated by the USA: 8-3. How is it possible that a team comprising of world-famous players, who rake in millions of dollars playing in the NHL, got their asses handed to them this bad? All these stars seemed incapable of playing together!I don’t know much about ice hockey, but I’ve given a lot of thought to building offensive lines in a business context. So let’s set hockey aside for the time being and start thinking about how to make better services and products, and how to generate some serious growth.