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Tom Simon

John I have been an avid follower of your writings and those of John Seely Brown. I also was an early pioneer of online community building, going back to work with Howard Rheingold on the Well, Electric Minds and Brainstorms, and later as Director of R&D for Caucus Systems. I was also an architect of the original Open Text Virtual Teams portal.

In 1997 while on a project for Xerox I tried to introduce a colloborative workflow system that integrated social networking with business process interaction and online learning. This led to the development of www.iprismglobal.com and www.greenportal.org. Most of my work since then has been in the UK where there seems to be more acceptance to the transparent horizontal management necessary for true online collaboration.

In reading above about the need for innovative management by western executives, I must tell you it is no easy task to convince them. The horizontal, transparent nature of successful online collaboration is in opposition to the hierarchial style that assures compensation and rewards stay at the top... my expereince is that you cannot build a productive process network without full participation of the executives who control decsion making and budgets. Have you addressed this in your writings or face to face consulting?


Hagel great thoughts!!!


You make some excellent points. I would say that you are too quick to judge Walmart. They are a learning as they go. I would also say that the US has very little to do with the shape Chinese cities are taking. While you may rely upon a United fight attendents for your insights, I would urge you to think more critcally.

The real insight that Hagel is offering is that innovation is emergent and cannot be neatly pre-packaged as radical. He is asking us to challenge the recieved view that great strategy is planned and packaged ahead of time by a bunch of smart top executives. Thus going back to Walmart and China's cities I would like to suggest that both represent initial hypotheses that initaite action. The next step when encountering resistance from the environment is the test of innovation.

Let's not judge a company or nation by its first step in a new direction but rather how it reacts to resistance.

Gautam Ghosh

Hi John

Couldn't agree with you more. Innovation blocks have a lot to do with mental models and Gary Hamel is revealing his mental models as you have quoted !


Prabir Sen

Recently, I was in Beijing and I ralized that some of the old ancient heritages of China are being destroyed to initiate new constructions for 2008 olympiad. On my return, one of the crew member of the United Airlines expressed a deep concern on how Beijing will look more like one of the American cities. And she said, "this is what we americans do. We go to other countries make other cities like our own." It reminded me my visit to Seoul right after the olympic. And Barcelona, Sydney, and Athens - cities with history and heritage turned into mundane commercialized westernized city. Over the years, I have been to many parts of the world - from Dallas to Dubai and from Shanghai to Sydney. One can recognize the replicas of american cities - same old flyovers, high rises, McDonald, Chillis and Appelbee's.

Four cities are distincly different from these mundane commericalized western influence - San Francisco, London, Paris and Mumbai. What makes them different? I guess their creativity and creative people. Historically, various communities from all over the world came to these cities for innovations. Innovations in design, engineering, technology and governance. They created new designs and contemporary principles on top of old traditions. I have been traveling to China way to often to recognize the similar pattern in Shanghai.

Gary Hamel's views are not significantly drifted from his book 'Leading the revolution' where he said, "in a fast-changing world with unpredictable demand cycles, startegic flexibility can generate higher profits..." and he propogated a similar concept of business service network.

Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble in their book '10 Rules for Strategic Innovators: From Idea to Execution' highlighted three major challenges in building powerful innovative business models: forgetting yesterday's successful processes and practices; borrowing selected resources from the core business; and learning how the new business can succeed.

Couple of years back when Wal-Mart went to Europe with the "western way or high-way" strategy, it failed miserably. And, years after when it was entering China, it took a completely different, very unlike Wal-Mart, strategy in order to work with the people of China repecting their cultural and heritage of the land. Almost identical to the strategy British used to govern India for 200 years with only hundred thousand troops. Management of innovation worked then. And, it worked now.

Well, all these are WHAT of strategy now focuses on innovation and change. The knowledge of the "HOW" is still nascent. The western executives need some of the "HOWs" so that they recognize and realize the return on innovation.

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