Forget what management gurus say Ð there is no perfect blueprint for an organisationÕs corporate structure, and there never will be.
Think about a great company Ð it could be your own company. What gives it its edge? Is it the processes it has in place? Maybe itÕs the chain of command that makes everyone work more efficiently? Or perhaps it introduced a matrix management system or put into place a re-engineering process? A new book, Firestarters, to be published on 22 October by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove looks at innovative companies and concludes that what makes the difference has less to do with processes and is based on their attitude towards innovation and change.
For decades we have been bombarded by one management fad after another claiming to provide a blueprint for organisational success. Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove argue that in the 20th century everyone believed that the holy grail of corporate organisation was just round the corner. But the miracle never materialised.
Crainer and Dearlove said: "If it is to work successfully, CRM is about a lot more than software and processes. You have to create organizations which are set up to interact and communicate at speed, using the right media and with people free to use their initiatives and imagination to deliver powerful customer experiences. Traditional organizations did not enable people to utilise their initiatives or imagination; the organizations of the future have no choice."
So what will the organisation of the future look like? Crainer and Dearlove believe it will not look like anything else. Organisations will have to constantly strive to be different. Different to what they were and different to everyone else. They will have to relentlessly seek out the latent talent that sits in their businesses and constantly work at ways to harness it. In short they will have to become Firestarter organisations.
Firestarter organisations explore new models, they realise that they have to outsource and focus on doing what they are good at. Firestarter organisations are getting better at moving quickly with ideas, diverting the right resources, accepting failure when it happens, learning and moving on. They are networked, continually looking to extend and strengthen their contacts. They provide meaning for those that work with them and they are above all entrepreneurial in their outlook.
The authors believe that Firestarter companies share ten main characteristics:
They glow with purpose
Amazon believes it is on a mission to change the way people think about shopping.
They hold the torch aloft
They recognise and reward people who uphold what the company stands for.
They blaze their own trail
It is the road less travelled that leads to competitive advantage.
They flare to succeed
They accept failure, learn from it and move on.
They harness the light of technology
They have learnt to use technology effectively, to make the way people communicate and work faster and more flexible.
They have firebrand leaders
nspirational leadership combined with an understanding of when to get out of the way and let people get on with it.
They radiate emotion
They understand the value of emotional economics and the maintenance of good relationships.
They foster an explosive network effect
Companies are judging themselves on the value of their networks.
The impact of their businesses spread like a bush fire
Where companies can see an opportunity to create value they will move there quickly. Conversely, where they see that someone else can be better than them, they will divert their resources towards something else.
They ignite entrepreneurs
They give their people the creative freedom to roam and to give voice to their entrepreneurial aspirations.
Firestarter organisations are populated by Firestarter people: talented entrepreneurs who are comfortable with change and generate a constant flow of new ideas. Most companies will have Firestarters working for them already and some are taking steps to make sure that they attract and retain the best talent. But many companies unwittingly have a culture that discourages innovation and snuffs out new thinking.
As Crainer and Dearlove explain, "The organisation of the future will be different. Difference will be its raison dÕtre. It will be forged not in the dull crucible of order and bureaucracy. But in the brilliant light of disorder and creativity. It will flicker and flame. The organisation of the future will be a Firestarter."
Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove are the founders of the media content, concepts and consultancy firm, Suntop Media.
Crainer is author of The Management Century, and The Ultimate Business Library.
DearloveÕs book credits include Architects of the Business Revolution and the Ultimate Book of Business Thinking. He writes for The Times, and business publications.