You're growing fast. You're profitable. Maybe they're even writing great things about you in the business press. But, just beneath the surface, are you incubating the seeds of disaster? It's happened over and over again, in one industry after another, to companies ranging from IBM to Upjohn. In this book, Lars Kolind helps you uncover the earliest signs of trouble--and reignite a powerful new growth cycle. Drawing upon his own experience as the CEO who turned around Oticon, the world's top manufacturer of hearing aids, Kolind introduces a comprehensive toolbox for revitalizing mature organizations: tools for creating consensus around change, using staff more effectively, promoting innovation, and much more. Finally, he applies his tools to a wide range of organizations in decline, including the U.S. auto industry. The result: specific, practical advice you can adapt to galvanize your organization, no matter how well you're doing today.
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LARS KOLIND was CEO of Oticon and the driving force behind the innovation and knowledge-based turnaround that led to Oticon’s leadership in the world market for hearing aids. Named Denmark’s Man of The Year 1996, his work at Oticon is a classic management case study presented at many leading business schools worldwide.
He currently serves as non-executive board member or chairman of several corporations, including world-leading pump manufacturer Grundfos, Unimerco Group, Scancom International, Zealand Pharma, Kristeligt Dagblad, and BankInvest Ventures.
Kolind is active in venture investment, and writes, speaks, and advises widely on strategy, knowledge, innovation, and corporate turnarounds. He has co-founded and chaired three national initiatives to help prepare Denmark for the knowledge society, including The National Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility, The Copenhagen Center, and The Danish Competency Council, which in 1999 published Denmark’s first national accounts on human capital.
A mathematician and leader, he is a principal of the Q Thought Leader Network, and serves international Scouting as deputy chairman of the board of The World Scout Foundation. He is also adjunct professor of leadership at the Aarhus School of Business.
More information and tools are available for readers at www.thesecondcycle.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Second Cycle: Winning the War Against Bureaucracy
The Second Cycle: Winning the War Against Bureaucracy
During the time I worked on this book in 2005, the news was full of stories about Ford and General Motors selling off assets, labor unions losing members, ever new problems hitting the Catholic Church, public schools being criticized for lack of relevance, German industry unable to meet competition from low-wage countries, the Bush administration stuck in scandals, and numerous other well-established institutions in deep trouble. It seems that everybody accepts that the upward part of the corporate lifecycle must be followed by a downward part that ends with extinction. The Roman Empire, The Soviet Union, The British car industry, Digital Equipment Corporation, Enron, and Arthur Andersen are but a few examples of the corporate lifecycle curve that most people believe is as fundamental to business as Newton's Law of Gravity is to classical physics.
There is little doubt that there are mechanisms associated with success that tend to transform once agile and creative organizations into complacent bureaucracies. However, the big question is why top managers overlook these mechanisms in their own organizations, even at times when their organizations' lack of performance is obvious to outsiders. What is it that blinds management and prevents it from taking appropriate action? Why is this disease allowed to develop for so long that it is often impossible to cure when it has finally been discovered? And what can be done to revert or avoid decline and perhaps even establish a platform for renewed growth, a second cycle?
To find an answer to these questions, I used my personal experience as a starting point. I reflected upon the organizations I had worked for, either as an employee, a manager, a board member, or a volunteer. I searched for small things under the surface that indicated or influenced the mechanisms behind the corporate lifecycles. I was particularly struck by several examples where organizations possessed knowledge, ideas, technologies, or people that could have brought them into the world league of their industry if opportunities had been managed properly; but they never followed those opportunities. I realized that opportunities were most often lost when the organization appeared to be most successful—not when it was in trouble.
This book neither fits into the mold of a conventional management textbook nor is it an autobiography. My experience with conventional management textbooks is that authors often attempt to make something look like a theory that has very little theoretical substance. Simple points that could be conveyed in a minimal amount of text are often explained and illustrated with so much excess text that the message gets lost. On the other hand, autobiographies often seem to serve only one purpose: to celebrate the merits of the author.
I call this an experience-based hands-on management book. It is written for easy reading—not loaded with unnecessary theory and references. It is designed to be useful for managers, politicians, volunteers, students, and others who are involved in or concerned about the future of their organizations. It recognizes current theories of management, but builds primarily on practical experience—that is, what has worked for me. I have not studied the behavior of hundreds of organizations in order to back up my recommendations with solid statistical evidence. However, this has given me more freedom to express my points bluntly and clearly. You will have to determine whether these recommendations apply to your organization.
The book has four parts.
First is an analysis of the mechanism of the conventional corporate lifecycle, in particular, why organizations become stagnate and decline at times when they think they are highly successful.
Second, you will find a proposed design for a new platform for innovation and growth—the second cycle. This platform stands on four pillars and each pillar has its own chapter: meaning, partnership, collaboration, and leadership.
Third, I invite you to look into my toolbox. It contains seven tools that I have used to diagnose an organization, establish a new foundation for it, and move it into a second cycle of sustained innovation and growth.
Fourth, I illustrate the main points of this book with three living examples of organizations that in my view are experiencing severe decline because they have not realized the need to move into a second cycle. I finish by putting the examples into greater perspective: how we could enjoy much more growth and prosperity if mature organizations were able and willing to jump out of their conventional lifecycles and start a new second cycle.
For inspiration, I have enclosed as an appendix the most significant case study I know about organizational transformation: the rebirth of troubled hearing aid manufacturer Oticon into the industry leader in the 1990s. That story taught me about both organizational decline and what it can take to jump into a second cycle. May it inspire you as well.
Throughout this book, I invite you to take a moment and reflect on your own situation or other organizations you know, in light of what you read. Watch for the symbol!
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