Management innovation at Young in Aibel

Recently I was invited to give a talk at a Young in Aibel workshop. Little did I know that I would meet a highly passionate, multicultural crew of young leaders. Our upcoming book is titled “Strategy Tools For The Next Generation”. The young crew I met at Aibel is just that Next Generation.

Young in Aibel is the brainchild of Marcus Hølland Eikeland, a project manager and business developer at Aibel. Used to making things happen, and seeing a need for a greater network amongst young employees, Marcus got the ball rolling on Young in Aibel. Hoping to see 30 members by end of October 2011, the Linkedin Group is 117 member strong and quickly growing.

Young in Aibel’s innovator-in-chief, Marcus Hølland Eikeland

It was this engaged group who was willing to stay after work on a Friday afternoon to join the workshop, “Innovation at Aibel”.

Special pre-print edition of our upcoming book
For Aibel we had the unique opportunity to provide a special, custom-made, pre-print edition of our upcoming book, “Dream Bigger: Your Personal Innovation Sketch Book”. Project manager Marcus Hølland Eikeland wrote the perfect introdution:

“Someone smart once said: ‘Life starts at the end of your comfort zone’.This is what ‘Young in Aibel’ is all about. Meeting new people, pushing ideas, and challenging the status quo.
Bring your ideas to life by drawing, writing or sketching them in this notebook. Together we shape the future. – The Young in Aibel Crew.”

This kind of young, self-organized, highly engaged group of people from Norway, Brazil, India, Venezuela and Sweden is something most firms would love to have.

Management innovation in the making
Young in Aibel – and programs like it – has all the characteristicas of Management Innovation. The program is bottom-up. It got kick-started by Marcus. It has no formal organizational structure or unit. It just comes together. The group uses open social media plattform, Linkedin, rather than corporate e-mail to communicate. It is a community of passion, not a formal project. And it is spreading like wildfire to other parts of Aibel’s organization.

But what is Management Innovation
Through our teaching and consulting, people frequently ask us “what is management innovation?
Using Birkenshaw, Hamel and Mol’s definition: “We define management innovation as the invention and implementation of a management practice, process, structure, or technique that is new to the state of the art and is intended to further organizational goals” (Management Innovation, Academy of Management Review, 2008:33) .

A more straight forward defintion is “reinventing management”. Because few firms, few scholars and few employees believe today’s managment model is helping us get the best out of people and organizations. Of all nine levels of innovation, management innovation is the least developed, but this is slowly changing.

Management innovation has been covered in Harvard Business Review in “Moon Shots for Management” (2009) and “Why, What, and How of Management Innovation” (2006).

Hamel and his crew of renegade scholars have also developed a set of “moonshots for management”.

Management innovation coming soon to a company very near you
Over the past few months I’ve had several lectures and talks covering management innovation. Using Google as a case study at BI Norwegian Business School, leads students to define “G-Leadership” – a suggestion for explaning what Google is doing, that the existing models for management (transformational leadership) does not explain.

A recent talk I gave to a group of financial controllers highlighted examples of management innovations. Using the Innovation Pyramid, the examples ranged from “using social medias as a leadership tool” to the big question “Do we really need managers?”. Again, this is very early in a new paradigm for management. But seeing the growing trend, watching the level of engagement on the MIX – Management Innovation Exchange – makes us confident in predicting Management Innovation is coming soon to a company very near you.

One such management innovation is excactly what Aibel is doing. And I believe it is truly exciting.
How do you light a creative spark under your young people, your next generation of leaders? How do you enable them to take charge, seize the moment and help push the creative thinking in the firm? This is excactly what Young in Aibel is doing. ….

The challenge for all firms: How do we reinvent management? How do we become management innovators? How do we create strategy tools for this next generation?

Update:
While we were writing this blog post Harvard Business Review published Gary Hamel’s latest article on management innovation “First, Let’s Fire All the Managers”. This December 2012 edition of Harvard Business Review has a great case study on how Morning Star Company generates $700 million in revenue with 400 employees – and no managers. We’ll cover this indepth in an upcoming blog post.

Management innovation at Young in Aibel

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