In my executive leadership classes on innovation I worked with one particular client in 30 workshops in London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Zurich. The innovation landscapes executives identified for their industry looked almost identical: a lot of innovation activities around products and processes, a lot less in areas such as networking, customer experience and payment models. This means missing out on rich potential for innovation. Of course, in going forward, the company should by no means stop innovating around existing products and processes, basically exploiting previous investments, existing customer intimacy and technical know-how. However, to purposefully take advantage of the under-utilised types of innovation as a source for true differentiation some more exploration would be required! While the notion of a need for both ‘exploration and exploitation’, to be ambidextrous, was introduced by James G. March in 1991, some 25 years later both organisations and individual leaders are still wrestling with the challenges of creating truly ambidextrous organisations. My new book is written with the aim to support the creation of ambidextrous organisations through the development of ambidextrous leaders.
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