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Winning Through Innovation: A Practical Guide to Leading Organizational Change and Renewal Hardcover – January 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

To avoid long-term failure while focusing on short-term success, business professors Tushman and O'Reilly present their views on the "ambidextrous organization." This is defined as having internally consistent structures and an internal operating culture that provides for excelling today while also planning for the future. This paradoxical state of dealing with incremental changes in the here and now while at the same time emphasizing the revolutionary change necessary in order to be in business tomorrow defines current business reality. Presenting examples from businesses that are doing a successful balancing act, the authors devise a model that can be used by any executive to understand better the dynamics of change necessary for long-term success. Their intriguing work, rooted in academic literature on the management of organizations, merits consideration, especially by larger university libraries.?Dale F. Farris, Groves, Tex.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The authors submit two new entries for admission to the pantheon of management catchphrases: ambidextrous organizations and innovation streams. Professors at Columbia University and Stanford University graduate schools of business, respectively, Tushman and O'Reilly stress the imperative that organizations must continuously innovate to thrive. They note the paradox that success often leads to stagnation and offer suggestions not only for winning short-term battles but also for mapping long-term strategy by creating a "culture of innovation." This culture is fostered by recognizing that organizations are "ambidextrous" ; they may have "internally inconsistent competencies, structures, and cultures" and yet share a single vision. Although the concept of ambidextrous organizations is not new (it was first suggested by R. B. Duncan in 1976), the authors make it the cornerstone of their argument. "Innovation streams" are the "patterns by which organizations develop new and better products and services." The use of countless examples from the business world helps turn an academic proposition into a truly "practical guide." David Rouse
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Pr; First Edition edition (January 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875845797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875845791
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,695,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book exemplifies the business of the Harvard Business School. It draws snippets from many case studies (available for purchase separately), it ties into seminars and tailored sessions sold at fancy prices to industry, and it presents one of several competing but overlapping theories of what divides successful and unsuccessful companies. It is often compared with Clayton Christensen's book "The Innovator's Dilemma" (obliquely referenced in the preface, but not appearing in the index or bibliography), and indeed both deal with the question of how established companies deal with technologies (in the loosest sense) that change markets. Of the two, I vastly prefer Christensen's book because he tells coherent stories that reach conclusions. This book introduces situations without enough detail to get a true feel for what is going on. In one extreme case ("... John Torrance at Medtek ...", p. 61), a reference is introduced that has no antecedent. The authors of books in this genre like to name drop to show you how broad and deep is their knowledge; therefore you should regard their version of gospel as more credible than their rivals. (How about a case sometime on business school professors?) There are "figures" and "tables" which I suspect are PowerPoint pastes from their lectures. Some of them are referenced (weakly) in the text -- most of them have no direct connection to the exposition. In short, the book gives the impression of being slapped together in haste. For the most part, it is well edited -- a few punctuation lapses notwithstanding. But it needed more editing for content.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Inertia and status quo will undermine, need innovation.

2. Organization crisis often triggers substantial innovation and change.

3. Companies proactively generate crises and opportunities by creating and solving problems.

4. Excellent managers are those whose unit have no performance gaps today but are able to define future opportunities to energize the organization now.

5. Managers must be clear about products, markets, technology, and timing and define objectives or standards to access performance.

6. A vision people can believe in can add passion and enthusiasm to an organization. A vision people do not understand or believe in undermines management's credibility and is a source of great cynicism.

7. When vision helps create the core values of an organization, it can provide the foundation for the culture or social control system essential in rapidly changing environments.

8. The essence of a vision company is the translation of ideology into goals, strategy, tactics, and policies, processes, and every thing that the company does.

9. Vision must be accessed against actual performance.

10. Managers prioritize performance gaps and make clear the most critical problems.

11. Managers can create opportunities gaps by raising performance standards.

12. Organizational learning is about finding good-enough solutions to important problems.

13. If strategy or vision is wrong, no amount of diagnosis and root cause analysis will help.

14. If a diagnosis reveals in congruencies between one or two organizational building blocks, incremental change is possible.

15. Norms are widely shared and strong held social expectations.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Many successful companies continue to live onto their past success stories and forget the drastic changes taking place in the market. This symptom ultimately makes their successes short-lived and their market positioning easily challenged,and overtaken, by other not-so-famous competitors. To evade such perils, this book explains lucidly the idea of discontinuous innovations through which "culture of innovation" can be obtained and finally reach to an ambidextrous organization. Without innovation no organization can ever think of surviving in this cut-throat competitive market. The concepts in the books are easy to understand via appropriate examples and related explanation.
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By James Leer on January 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is very insightful and a good book to read for business. It draws the in's and out's of this business in a concise format.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Binns on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When I first read this book in 2000, I thought it was a penetrating analysis of the dynamics of large organizations and the tendency they have to be very good at doing the same thing; but then get stuck in the past and can't change. As we live through the credit crisis and the fall of once great names like Lehman Brothers I've come back to it for explanations of what's been going on. How can it be that the more successful you are the less likely it is that you will see the causes of your own downfall?

Another reviewer says this book compares poorly with Christansen's Innovator's Dilemma. But unlike Christansen, Tushman and O'Reilly offer a broader explanation for the phenomenon that gets at the guts of modern organizations. This book may lack the intellectual gratification that Christansen provides but is stacked with common sense.

The authors go beyond business school authodoxy and offer practical guidance on how to avoid the traps that they describe so vividly. Tushman first proposed the idea of 'organization alignment' or 'congruence' in the late 80s. Here he and O'Reilly bring that idea alive in several case studies based on their own research. They also advance the notion of the 'ambidextrous organization' as a way of managing a business through the innovators dilemma. The sections on culture may be too long for some, I didn't think so. What I find useful is the specific nature of the cases and definitions used; culture as something real and tangible. If only a few more banking CEOs had taken the time to understand the threat their own culture was creating for them.
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