First, per the authors, “the term Senior Executives to refer to men and women in positions such as chairman, vice chairman, CEO, and president, who can perform well the leadership roles, who need to have the power and the confidence to declare certain corporate rules will and will not followed, given the circumstances that a growth venture is in.” (p. 283 The Innovator’s Solution)
I knew of a Chinese company that at one time was running tight during hard times. The CEO cut his pay by one fourth and asked his executive management to cut their pay by one half and he would bring the pay back as soon as possible and guaranteed that he would be the last man to reinstate his income.
During this time the CEO needing to know the details of the company as it was running today, filled in for any missing employee where he could and did whatever job needed to be done. He also only ate lunches and took breaks with the other employees in the cafeteria. Even if he brought his own lunch from home, he sat and socialized with the workers. It took time, almost one year before he reinstated his income but during this year the changes made to the company were amazing and turned the company around that might have been doomed if not for an innovative CEO. I feel so proud to know people like this still exists.
What roles the average Senior Executives need to play in managing innovation? According to the authors, there are four tasks for an established company to actively monitoring the appropriate flow of resources, processes, and values:
- Actively coordinate action and decisions
- Break the grip of established process
- Create processes
- Stand astride the boundary of organizations.
It is not uncommon that the higher up management takes the role of delegating authority or process to a fault. I have personally known an upper management individual who just gave all of his power to the one under him and when was asked any questions he would just say “speak to your next in line supervisor and they will come to me if needed”. This person also never wanted to be in his team’s email so he probably did not know what was going on day-to-day business, never took calls from anyone accept the people directly under him or over him. He left work after a 5 to 6-hour work day and could never be reached by anyone when gone. I would say this job is so comfortable that I would love to have it but truly I would not. There is no joy or accomplishment or concern for your own company doing business this way. Just in here another week waiting for another payday. Not a good life or team player for a company, especially is common in a big and established company where there are too many layers of management and lack of activism.
Senior Executives will always have their own authority or ways of doing business. They need to recognize and manage between their responsibilities for parts of the business and the collective needs of the business. They must learn new roles and old ones that have worked, taking on challenging new responsibilities, even for parts of the business that they don’t directly control. This is so important if you’re going to have a growing company.
The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth – by Christensen, Clayton M. and Michael E. Raynor, 2003