Developmental Management: Recognizing Potential

Recognizing the potential in people and things, in products and markets, is the next important stage in the innovative process. For, whereas the visionary creates potential, the enabler recognizes the emerging technological, social, and commercial opportunities. Developmental management, then, involves a recognition of the underlying needs within and among people and communities, products and market-places. Such recognition leads to organic development of the company and its people.

In the early stages of its development, Dexion was able to recogize the “packets of possibility” in its product-market interface. As a result, the enabling technology contained within the original “grown man's Meccano applications” was brought to fruition. Norman Bailey, as managing director in the 1960s, was able to translate this enabling philosophy into sales management. “We're not here to tell the sales force what to do, but to enable them to do what they need to do. Our job is to make it possible. They're the front line.”11

However, during the 1960s, a series of diversifications took place that involved a transformation of the business rather than a further evolution of it. The innovative and entrepreneurial impulses supplanted the developmental ones. Above all there were shortfalls in executive capacity.

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