John Kotters new book: Organisation Biomimicry goes mainstream

I have just purchased John Kotter's new book XLR8 ("Accelerate") which as well as reworking his previous excellent thinking on change introduces two concepts which resonate with my work - The Dual Operating System and The Big Opportunity. Lets briefly look at each of them.


The Dual Operating System
Most companies have a single operating system - it is called the organisation chart. Kotter recognises that this is essential for "keeping the trains running" but is not fit for purpose in terms of its ability to support innovation and agility. He suggests that companies should place their informal "network systems" at the same level of importance as their hierarchy systems and use the second system to stay ahead of the curve. He suggests that this second operating system needs to cover at least 5-10% of the entire organisation.

It's a neat idea with strong foundations from natural systems and networks. Critics might argue that its already happening in many companies and looking through the book (which is not a thick one) it does seems light on the detail of exactly how to take a companies "network system" out of the back room and bring it centre stage and on an equal par with its formal system.

The Big Opportunity
Kotter talks about using Big Opportunities to drive through change with a sense of urgenc. Kotter sets aside a whole chapter to explaining what he means by the term "Big Opportunity" which he suggests is:
" the product of changes in an organizations environment (such as new markets, new advances in technology or new demands) , changes inside the organization (such as new products or new people) or both".

I like this approach as it reminds me of some of the thinking on Strategy as Active Waiting from Donald Sull and the concept of Strategic Opportunism which looks like an oxymoron but in reality makes a lot of sense.

So XLR8 is definitely worth buying and reading if you want to think through how to engage your organisation more like the living thing it is and less like a machine. This brings you to the realisation that if the organisation is alive then it cannot be managed rather it can only be perturbed which is a big topic in itself which I explore further in my books which in turn draw inspiration from Fritjof Capras writings particularly The Web of Life and The Hidden Connections.

About Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson delivers keynote conference speeches, workshop facilitation and in-house consultancy in four key business areas:

  1. Creating High Performing Teams in enterprises including Virtual and Mobile Teams (based on the Bioteams Book)
  2. Establishing effective Collaborative Business Networks enabling companies to co-operate effectively in areas such as sales and product development (based on the book - The Networked Enterprise)
  3. How to use the latest social media technologies including blogging and online communities to promote enterprises, brand, organisation or event
  4. Development of graphical on-line interactive Business Games, Dashboards and What-if Simulators for organisations to support Performance Improvement, Strategy Development and Executive Team Development.

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The Networked Enterprise (TNE) book published

The Networked Enterprise (TNE) book published
Knowledge-based SMEs and SMBs (small fish) need to read "The Networked Enterprise (TNE) - competing for the future through Virtual Enterprise Networks (VENs)" with its numerous real examples and proven techniques to find out how to use VENs to develop strategic partnerships with BIG FISH (large enterprises) to propel them to the next level of competitive success. BIG FISH must also use TNE to gain enhanced access to innovation, agility and alternative risk/reward and cost models by partnering with small fish via VENs.

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