Posted by: Katherine Raleigh
Programme Manager on Mon 29 Jan

At our monthly Innovation Days, KnowledgeBrief clients scan the latest ideas in the world of management innovation and identify their top priorities for action right now. Here’s a summary of the viewpoints discussed at January's Innovation Day.

Don’t use hope as a method to develop your managers

There’s no doubt organisations stand to benefit from investing in talent development and preparing their future leaders. However, all too often, a person will be promoted to a management position simply because they had excelled in a functional, non-management role. But once they arrive in the new position, they often lack key leadership skills and thus fail to live up to executives’ high expectations.

With little intention in developing that individual, organisations are almost using hope as a method when they throw employees into their first management role. A better path is to begin preparing future managers when they are still in non-management roles, so that they can develop prior to moving up the ladder1.

Consider how big a role hope and luck play in your organisation’s talent development. How can you plan better for future managers?

Consider the benefits of hierarchy

Hierarchies are often seen as obstacles to innovation. But if we take hierarchy away, what are we left with? Too much structure may be in the way of creativity and spontaneity, but too little structure comes with the risk of inefficiency.

We must remind ourselves, no one has the monopoly on innovative ideas. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the hierarchy needs to disappear. The challenge is to find a way to enhance the idea flow, and ensure the top of the hierarchy is connected to employees, ideas and the needs of the customers.

A growing body of research shows that the right hierarchy can help teams become better innovators and learners. When a group has a chain of command, disagreements can be more easily resolved so that the group can take coordinated action2.

Who do people in your organisation go to for advice, decision making and/or ideas?

Use business text messaging sensibly

Text messages are becoming increasingly popular as a method of business communication. Clients and customers can quickly be informed of changes or information, without the need to immediately reply, and we can keep in touch with people in an informal manner.

Perhaps text messages would be a fruitful way to cut through the noise and go directly to the point. Just remember, sending a text message to a customer or client is in no way the same as sending a text to a friend. Consider these four rules: (1) no text speak, (2) be professional, (3) check your spelling, and (4) think about timing3.

Learn more about how to utilise this cheap, easy method of staying in touch with your customers.


Sources: 1Kellogg Insight (2017) Four Strategies for Cultivating Strong Leaders Internally, Kellogg School of Management, Jul 5; 2Sanner, B. and Bunderson, J. S. (2017) The Truth about Hierarchy, MIT Sloan Management Review, Dec 11; 3Lonsdale, M. (2017) Using Texts for Business Communication, Work Etiquette.

The complete Innovation Priorities report accompanies the monthly KnowledgeBrief SCAN and ACT publications available to clients. It captures clients’ collective views on stand-out priorities for action, and includes further research and action points from our Research Faculty to support turning these priorities into practice.

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Techniques Referenced in this Blog

Business Process Improvement | Consumer Behaviour | Contingency Theory of Leadership | Corporate/Organisational Culture | Customer Relationship Management | Empowering Employees | Multidivisional Organisational Structure | Social Network Analysis | Succession Planning

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