Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 62 Keep Your Thinking on the 'Cutting Edge'

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Based on approach of GE's Beth Comstock, there are 5 ingredients to change

1. Develop a network of 'futurists' or 'future thinkers' (have regular contact)

2. Spend time with start-ups (they see things differently)

3. Look for new trends (spend 1/3 of your time on this)

4. Encourage diversity in your team (commit to people from non-traditional backgrounds. This can make the job harder but the friction creates creativity)

5. Draw insights from external sources (conduct open, interactive sessions with a range of experts on any topic where any question is allowed)

GE is a diverse conglomerate that has businesses ranging from aircraft engines to consumer credit services; it has 45,000 engineers and innovators, 3,000 researchers, 45,000 sales people and 5,000 marketers globally.

Within this group, GE is stressing the importance of design-led technology and making ideas happen amidst bureaucracy. Some examples

i) in the analogue-digital debate, people realized that the 'analogue dollars would become cents over time; while the digital cents would become dollars'.

ii) 3D printing will change manufacturing, ie by creating products in 3D by printing layer upon layer will allow 'smaller' players to compete

Using ideas that spring from gaps between today's technology and tomorrow's needs.

The internet has democratized innovation. This, combined with technological changes, is resulting in power moving from the center to the edges, and from firms to individuals, eg anyone can publish on the internet

As it is hard to know which business model will be successful or its value, best to use a pilot study to work it out.

Based on the above approach, GE has recently developed 'ecomagination' and 'healthymagination'. The former is devoted to reducing the environmental impact of new technology; the latter is aimed at delivering better, more affordable healthcare.

Some other parts of the approach are

- encourage challenging of the status quo

- do not take 'no' for an answer

- encourage ideas from anywhere (open innovation, eg ecomagination was launched in 2010 via crowd-sourcing and invited ideas from around the global with a $US 200 million reward pot. They received 4,000 ideas from 150 countries)

- adequate funding of research (GE spent $US 5.8 million on R & D in 2011)

- 'GE Garages' and 'pop-up manufacturing labs' to help and collaborate with people to turn ideas into products as GE realized that start-up firms don't want to work for GE

(source: Rachel Botsman, 2012)


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