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Management Innovation and Globalization: The Leadership Challenge

Jim Taggart

Delta Partners is pleased to release the White Paper: Building Effective Management and Leadership Practices to Enhance Organizational Innovation



To help managers from the public and private sectors gain a better perspective of the leadership challenge stemming from rapid and unpredictable change, this post presents some of the key messages from the White Paper. The post was written by Consulting Associate Jim Taggart, the author of the White Paper. We welcome your feedback - please take a moment to share a comment.

- Alcide



Baseball legend Yogi Berra said it best: “The future ain't what it used to be.”

Canada, the United States and other rich Western countries are in the midst of massive global upheaval. Past assumptions and stereotypes are being thrown out the window. The past two decades have witnessed economic, technology and geo-political events that have swept the world. The consequence has been a dramatically altered landscape within which business and governments must now function. The past two years - since the financial meltdown and the onset of the Great Recession - have placed added pressures on governments and corporations.

The Coming Management Challenge

Our new economic environment presents huge challenges to leaders and managers in business, government and not-for-profit organizations. No one is immune from the juggernaut of globalization.

Escher box 1-303x312Canada is not immune from the effects of escalating competition from newly industrialized nations. Innovation, as much as it’s often talked about in abstract terms, must be an essential component of a nation’s competitiveness. It is how wealth is created. What is often overlooked is the vital role that managers play in helping to strengthen the innovative capacities of their organizations, and, in turn, how they perform in a highly competitive global economy.

The ability to manage complex, interrelated issues is becoming a major competitive advantage for organizations. This requires skill sets among employees that will make the difference between stronger corporate competitiveness and failure.

Furthermore, the act of building greater adaptability in response to market change calls for an emphasis on the development of leaders at all levels of organizations. Managers will feel the strain as the pace of change accelerates, as they are called upon to practice corporate values, and as they strive to create workplaces that foster innovation. Staff, therefore, need to be enrolled as grassroots leaders to serve as catalysts to greater creativity, innovation, productivity and client service.

What types of skills should the effective manager of the 21st Century possess?

The Boston Consulting Groupprovides useful advice in its 2006 report for Innovation & Business Skills Australia. Entitled The Manager of the 21st Century: 2020 Vision, the report states that if managers are to be provided with the necessary “survival” skills up to 2020, then those involved in educating and training managers must “continuously refine” the learning agenda to ensure that it remains relevant to changes in the workplace, global economy and society. This agenda comprises three parts, within which the successful manager in 2020 will have acquired experience and mastered the following key competencies:

A) Maximize Opportunities in a Changing World

  • Keep a global perspective and learn constantly,
  • Be flexible and capable of adjusting to different geographic markets and cultures,
  • Adjust organizational structures to reflect the needs of an ageing workforce,

B) Manage Diversity in a Changing Workplace

  • Create a balance among the approaches needed to effectively manage and lead three generations in the workplace,
  • Measure staff performance using outputs not inputs,
  • Understand the motivations underlying peoples’ behaviours in a diverse workplace, and be creative when designing incentives to recruit and retain talented staff,

C) Respond to Changing Times with a Changing Mindset

  • Create a workplace where talented teams, not just individuals, flourish,
  • Develop specialist skills along with general management skills,
  • Promote and practice work-life balance.

Management Innovation and the Public Sector

The subject of management-innovation will grow in importance in the coming years, and not just in the business sector. Innovation will take on greater importance in the public sector as governments at all levels face the strains of delivering programs and services to citizens while attempting to control spending. And, at the same time, these governments will also be competing on the international stage as they strive to create enabling environments for their domestic industries to succeed in what one prominent Canadian businessman has called a “global streetfight.”


To read the full White Paper, click here.


I agree with most of the article except with one of the opportunities; “Adjust organizational structures to reflect the needs of an aging workforce,”. I am not sure what this means, or that the aging workforce’s needs are the most important in this case. If there is competition for new employees, then I think it would follow that the organizational structures should become more networked and less hierarchical.

Good article on an important subject, thank you.

By @thomkearney on 2011/01/31

Thanks for your comment, Thom. You answered your query by noting the need for organizations to become more networked and less hierarchical. It’s perhaps less the need to respond to younger generations than it is for organizations to become more resilient and adaptable to change in a highly competitive global economy.

By Jim Taggart on 2011/01/31

It’s interesting that the same segment jumped off the page for me too. I have worked with many organizations on the need to re-examine their corporate structures when their results are less than ideal. In far too many cases their interpretation of ‘structures’ is limiting; often about space allocation, or equipment placement and storage, so are frequently discounted in the context of their challenges. I wonder if the context you are thinking about includes policy changes (another form of structure) that, if examined, would support phased retirement, mentoring, or co-op opportunities.

By Heather Hughes on 2011/02/04

I should clarify for both of you that the part you’re questioning relates to the Boston Consulting Group’s report. Organizational structures are much more than space allocations, equipment, etc. They encompass the established vertical and horizontal working and reporting relationships. Of course, beneath that is how work actually gets done in an organization: the relationships that have been cultivated over the years, the handing-down of “this is now we do things around here” traditions; the unspoken yet embedded assumptions that drive corporate cultures, etc.

By Jim Taggart on 2011/02/04

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Posted by Jim Taggart
Posted on January 28, 2011

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Categories: competitiveness, hr & talent management, innovation, leadership, management