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10 Rules of Managing Global Innovation (Part 2)

[This article is the continuation of the “10 Rules of Managing Global Innovation (Part 1)” article.]

Rule #2: Provide A Stable Organizational Context

Doz and Wilson suggest that managing the global innovation activities and the other major activities of the organizations together can somewhat be painful for organizations. A good manager should never solely focus on managing global innovation activities and overlook other responsibilities. For instance, during the times when there is a major reorganization under R&D, or during a big acquisition, it is likely to be struggling for the managers to handle the global innovation activities. These are the risky times when a lot of crucial decisions and problems may stay unaddressed. When this is the case; uncertainty for the organization rise up and it causes the employees to lose their focus and become concerned about the job security. No need to say, this is one of the worst scenarios a manager would be willing to take.

However, in the twenty-first century, it is impossible to claim that managers should be undertaking global innovation projects only when there is a stable environment within the firm, because it may take forever to wait for a good timing to solely start off the global innovation activities. A great manager should be foreseeing the potential effects of running multiple projects at a time and should be able to prevent its employees from losing their focus.   

Rule #3:  Assign Oversight And Support Responsibility To A Senior Manager

Even though you have the best talented, diverse and an eager team in your hand, each organization and each project requires a great project manager. Depending on the expertise and the field of the project, there should be an executive manager as the ultimate decision making mechanism, especially when the project undertaken has multi-site operations running. In order to avoid miscommunication and project planning related problems to become personal problems, the person whose role is to take risk, solve problems and act as a decision making authority must exist.

Existing local problems become more complex, when they occur globally. In contrast, if a global company is experiencing a problem with all -or many- branches, it’s also very tough for branch managers to manage the existing problem as well. For instance, Rocket Internet is the world’s largest internet incubator started in Germany and has expanded around the world. They entered to the Turkish market in 2011 and grew very quick within a year, with the 8 new ventures they had. However, after a year they still did not have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and spreadsheets became unmanageable after a while. Although in many countries Rocket Internet uses professional ERP systems, the managing director of Rocket Internet Turkey first did not want to invest in an ERP system at the beginning and failed to foresee the upcoming big market potential and the need for such a system it requires. In this case, if one of the German founders was in charge of making the ultimate decisions and be the risk taker, they would be implementing the same ERP system that Rocket Internet has been using for the other branches, and it could have helped to prevent Rocket Internet Turkey shutting down its operations after a year and a half.  

Rule#4: Use Rigorous Project Management And Seasoned Project Leaders

In some cases, a senior manager can be both the project manager and the ultimate decision maker. However, there are also cases where a project manager is in charge of managing the project by all means but directed by the senior manager who makes the final decisions and administrate the project. Whatever the case is, managing the global innovation requires a great project manager who is able to consider the factors such as cost, time and scope management and act accordingly so that the organization makes the most out of the project. On the other hand, a good project manager has to be good at such fields as communication management, time management, risk management, cost management, procurement management, human resource management and quality management. Furthermore, and most importantly, managing all the global innovation activities should be led a person who has great integration management skills so that having all those separate management skills become valuable by getting them harmoniously combined with each other.

In contrast with what Wilson and Doz say, I do not agree that seasoned project leaders are a must. There are certainly cases where they can be efficiently used there are also cases where a seasoned project manager could perform significantly less effective than any other regular employee. At that point, it is senior managers’ job to assess the current project managers’ capabilities and skill set to see whether seasoned project leaders a good idea.


Image source:

Uğur İnanç

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