CHAPTER 7Accelerating Organizations Turning Drag into Drive

The history of innovation has many heroes. Go back to the ancient Greeks, and you find pioneers in philosophy, theater, and geometry. From the ensuing centuries, we celebrate scientific heroes who identified fundamental properties of our universe, such as Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, or those who discovered some of its building blocks—such as Niels Bohr, who laid out subatomic structures, or Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxygen. More recently, our awe about scientific discoveries has extended to those whose products have changed our lives, so we venerate Steve Jobs and Sir Jonathan Ive for designing the iPhone and put on a pedestal founder-CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. We have, in some cases, even moved beyond products to focus on developers of new business models, with the success of Uber, Airbnb, and other “asset-light” businesses.

But what about developments in organizational structure and in managing at the organization level? There is a general consensus that the future of business competition will depend much more on talent and on agile organizations, and this doesn’t just mean finding better people as part of a war for talent. The shift in emphasis also requires better thinking about how we organize and deploy that talent.1 All sorts of developments in technology have radically changed how we interact with each other in businesses. And yet, in the years since Alfred P. Sloan created the ...

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