Posted by: Katherine Raleigh
Programme Manager on Sun 21 May

At the recent Innovation Days, KnowledgeBrief clients scanned the latest ideas in the world of management innovation and identified their top priorities for action right now. Here’s a summary of the viewpoints discussed.

Understand and support the role of your middle managers

At the last Innovation Day, clients discussed how middle managers occupy a unique, indispensable position within organisations, bridging the day-to-day operational expertise of frontline staff with the big-picture perspective of senior management. The great challenge is, however, that this shift from relatively low to relatively high power interaction styles can cause psychological pressures.1

As a leader, it is critical to understand that middle managers are expected to play very different roles in organisations when moving from one interaction to the next, whilst also meeting demands tied to services and the need to be innovative. It was outlined that organisations must concentrate on supporting middle managers, and be better at considering the strategies for easing the burdens that middle managers face.

Consider if you are providing enough support to middle managers.

Take charge of digitalisation

Our clients are becoming increasingly aware that digital is much more than just technology. It is important that organisations pursue a balanced approach to digital transformation that’s equal parts business, experience, and technology.2

In the most basic sense, people have been the missing variable in the digital transformation equation in the prior decade’s obsession with business IT alignment. When going digital, our clients discussed how it was vital not to disempower people and disengage the brains of your organisation.

Does your organisation pursue a balanced approach of equal parts business, experience, and technology?

Observe the balance of team roles

Research on how great teams are not only about skills, but also about personalities has also been a subject for discussion at a recent Innovation Day. Personality affects what role a person has within a team, how the person interacts with the rest of the team, and whether the person’s values align with the team’s values.3

Some clients shared how they look beyond skills and expertise in their recruitment process. Another viewpoint was that rather than looking for certain personalities to hire, organisations can build confidence between team members to take on different roles despite personality traits. More or less, every person plays two roles in a working group: a functional role, based on their formal position and technical skill, and a psychological role, based on the kind of person they are. It is possible to be deliberate/strategic about both roles. 

Be strategic about how you put your teams together. Even if it is solely based on technical skills, make sure this decision is deliberate.


Sources: 1Anicich, E. and Hirsch, J. (2017) The Psychology of Middle Power: Vertical Code-Switching, Role Conflict, and Behavioral Inhibition, Academy of Management Review. 2PwC (2017) A decade of digital: Keeping pace with transformation, 2017 Global Digital IQ® Survey: 10th anniversary edition, Oxford Economics. 3 Windsborough, D. and Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2017) Great Teams Are About Personalities, Not Just Skills, Harvard Business Review. 4Rock, D. and Grant, H. (2016) Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter, Harvard Business Review.

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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