I asked this question in the L&D Revolution LinkedIn group I have to support the Revolutionize L&D book, but thought I’d ask it here as well. And I’ve asked it before, but I have some new thoughts based upon thinking about McChrystal’s Team of Teams. Do we use a Dual Operating System (Dual OS), with hierarchy being used as a base to pull out teams for innovation, or do we go with a fully podular model?
In a Dual OS org, the hierarchy continues to exist for doing the work that is known that needs to be done. Kotter pulls out select members to create teams to attack particular innovation elements. These teams change over time, so people are cycled back to work and new folks are infused with the innovation approach.
My question here is whether this really creates an entire culture of innovation. In both Keith Sawyer’s Group Genius and Stephen Johnson’s Where Do Good Ideas Come From, real innovation bubbles along, requiring time and serendipity. You can get innovative solutions for known problems from teams, but for new insights you need an ongoing environment for ideas to emerge, collide, percolate/incubate/ferment. How do you get that going across the organization?
On the other hand, looking at the military, there’s a huge personnel development infrastructure that prepares people to be members of the elite teams. Individuals from these teams intermix to get the needed adaptivity, but it’s based upon a fixed foundation. And there are still many hierarchical mechanisms organized to support the elite work. So is it really a fully teamed approach?
As I write this, it sounds like you do need the Dual OS, and I’m willing to believe it. My continuing concern again is what fosters the ongoing innovation? Can you have an innovative hierarchy as well? Can you have a hierarchy with a culture of experimentation, accepting mistakes, etc? How do the small innovations in operating process occur along with the major strategic shifts? My intuitions go towards creating teams of teams, but completely. I do believe everyone’s capable of innovation, and in the right atmosphere that can happen. I don’t think it’s separate, I believe it has to be intrinsic and ubiquitous. The question is, what structure achieves this? And I haven’t seen the answer yet. Have you? Perhaps we still have some experimentation to do ;).