Monday, August 20, 2007

Reinventing Project Management: The Diamond Approach to Successful Growth and Innovation (Harvard Business School Press, 2007)

I have started reading, Reinventing Project Management: The Diamond Approach to Successful Growth and Innovation (Harvard Business School Press, 2007) by Aaron J. Shenhar and Dov Dvir. Michelle Morgan (Publicist) at Harvard Business School Press sent me a copy of the book for review and comments. I will send in my thoughts about the book as I make my way through it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Strategic Outsourcing, an International Journal

I have just accepted an invitation to join the Editorial Board of Strategic Outsourcing, an International Journal (see Dr. Marco Busi (University of Strathclyde) is the Editor of the journal. It is an honor to be asked to join the Editorial Board. The Editorial Board has several notable researchers such as Professor Bjorn Andersen, Professor Leslie Willcocks, Dr Erran Carmel, Dr Jeanne Ross, and Dr Mary C. Lacity, among others…

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Book Review: IT and the East (HBS Press, 2007) by James M. Popkin and Partha Iyer

The best business book on the competitive stature of India, China, and China-India! A must read for executives who want to stay relevant in today’s global marketplace. India and China are two superpowers in the making. IT and the East (by James M. Popkin and Partha Iyer, HBS Press, 2007) provides a detailed, honest, practical, and futuristic examination of the operating environments of these two nations. In addition, this book describes the potential symbiotic environment that might develop if India and China strengthen their cooperative relationships.

I must repeat, this is a must read!

The book is detailed, with a lot of information, which the average manager is unaware of. For instance, information on the infrastructural challenges in India or the potential of lack of future skilled (qualified) resources in India! The book is practical in that it offers managers a set of activities and interventions that they might (and should) consider. For example, how does one build competencies for market development or research and development in India and China? The authors use their crystal ball and chart out possible scenarios to guide managers as to how these two countries, and the relationships between them, might advance in the next five years.

The book is easy to read, well-structured, and has adequate illustrations which superbly capture the textual details. The book begins by examining China. Chapter 1 paints a sobering picture of the challenges faced by this global superpower. Chapter 2 details the IT infrastructure issues in China. Chapter 3 outlines the courses that China might embark on to 2012. The authors assign probabilities to each of these courses and outline guideposts that can be monitored to gauge outcomes. Chapters 4-6 conduct a similar exposition of India. Chapter 7 argues for the concept of ChinIndia that is seen as the r outcome if the two superpowers expand their collaboration powers. Chapter 8 details why ChinIndia is a real possibility and what are the driving forces behind this. Chapter 9 outlines priorities for organizations who want to be relevant in terms of competing in India or China, or ChinIndia, and even tapping into this growing marketplace for resources.

Overall, An excellent book….

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management

I am at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management in Philadelphia. I have had a great time so far. Most of the time has been spent meeting with my students, colleagues, and new friends…I will post a complete reaction to the meeting upon my return to Seattle…Tomorrow, I take part in a panel called - Transformation, Change, and Organizational Development: Creating a Global Academic Endeavour (at 10.40 a.m. (EDT)). The panel is chaired by Ashley Braganza of Cranfield University. My fellow panel members are: Steve Leybourne; Plymouth U.; Gerard P. Hodgkinson; U. of Leeds; Gavin M. Schwarz; U. of New South Wales; George P. Huber; U. of Texas, Austin; Terry McNulty; U. of Liverpool; and Ray Hackney; Brunel U.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Book Review: Payback (Harvard Business School Press, 2006) by James P. Andrew and Harold L. Sirkin

How does one reap the business value out of innovations? This question has puzzled me for the last 24 months. Along with several colleagues, I have been investigating models and mechanisms that firms can use to manage, track, and evaluate the contributions of innovation activities to their business value. Let me say that this no easy feat to accomplish. To date, we have arrived at a mechanism that can be used to measure the business value of innovation (for the interested reader, please contact me for details, or see some of the many talks and presentations that have described our findings, for example - Demystifying the Link between Innovation and Business Value: A Process Framework at the Management Roundtable, July 18, 2007). Given this context, I welcomed the opportunity to read Payback (Harvard Business School Press, 2006) by James P. Andrew and Harold L. Sirkin.

In Payback, the authors, both of whom are senior executives with the Boston Consulting Group, construct the concept of the “cash curve”, as a guide for executives to manage their investments in innovation. The concept is fairly simple, intuitive, and yet helpful. The authors show how to manage critical drivers such as size of investment, speed to market, time to scale, and support costs, so that one can reap the largest payoff out of innovations. The authors describe various measures of business value for innovation beyond cash, such as acquisition of new knowledge, enhancement of brand image, linking to business partners, and energizing employees within the organization.

Overall, I found the book to be very interesting. The most interesting aspect of this book is the discussion on choosing the right innovation model (Chapters 4-6): the integrator, the orchestrator, and the licensor. In these chapters, the authors talk about the various models and how should organizations choose the right model, or a combination of models, to address the various innovation investments they make. The book is good for managers who wan to plan innovation investments. However, this book does not provide a guide whereby to track innovation efforts, the process of innovation (from ideas to prototypes to commercialization) and its effects on the business value of innovation. Put another way, this book will give you a good (or even excellent) understanding of how to manage the investments you make into innovation strategies and efforts. However, once these investments are made, how do you actually manage the innovation process, improve it, and link it to business value is not covered. For those interested in these aspects, I encourage you to review previous posts on this Blog and get involved in our ongoing research efforts.

An excellent read for anyone in the innovation business or even for anyone running a business….

Friday, August 03, 2007

Book Review: The Kids are Alright: How the Gamer Generation is Changing the Workplace, by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade

In my modest opinion, a good book should motivate you, encourage you, challenge you, and even call you to explore new boundaries. This is the barometer through which I judge the quality of books. I have just completed reading the book – The Kids are Alright: How the Gamer Generation is Changing the Workplace, by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade.

This book explores the gaming culture and the behavioral intricacies of game players. The book also discusses how managers should re-think their interactions with the current (and future) workforce that has grown up gaming. Gamers have special skills, aptitudes, views of reality, which if tapped into appropriately, can be used to make them highly productive, engaged, and successful employees, and even high-performing executives. Too often managers, and even academicians, dismiss gamers and have stereotypical views of their behaviors, capabilities, and even outlooks on life and opportunities. This book provides a engaging discussion of why we need to rid ourselves of these prejudices. Through gathering data from gamers, both quantitative (via large-scale surveys) and qualitative (via interviews and observations), the authors set straight the traditional myths about the gaming culture (e.g. they are wasting their time, they are low achievers, etc). Here is a brief outline of the book. The Introduction and Chapter 1, provide an account of how the concept of video games, and the gamer generation (or gaming culture), originated and intensified. Chapter 2 discusses the myths about the gaming culture and why some of us (e.g. parents who think that kids playing video games may lead to demonstrating of virtual behavior, like shooting, in a real-world setting) worry too much about these myths. Chapter 3 addresses the traits of the virtual world and why these provide an alternative reality that is very different from the real world. This alternative reality allows gamers to experience emotions, control behavior, and seek goals that do not have equivalent alternatives in the real world. Chapters 4 – 7, discuss various aspects of the gaming culture, such as their desire to succeed to their preference of emergent leadership and the trial-and-error approach to problem solving. These attributes are discussed with an intention to show managers that these behaviors can be tapped into to drive high-performance in organizations. Chapter 8 brings the book to a close.

So, what did I think of the book? Simply put, it is a good (and even a great) book. This book motivated me to think about the concept of games and how they touch the scholarly disciplines that I am concerned with. Have you heard of the new video game – ICED! ICED allows you to take on the role of foreigners who become illegal in the US and have to deal with immigration nightmares (or challenges!). Players have to use strategies to avoid interrogation and detention (e.g. do not commit crimes that will get you arrested, keeping a low profile, etc). ICED will be available next month via free downloads. Another game, in the same genre, is PeaceMaker, which allows players to take on sides, either as a Palestinian or Israeli, and negotiate for peace. These two games have an educational potential in the areas of public policy, international security, international affairs, and law enforcement. I would have not done a search to discover these games, if not for reading this book.

Overall, an excellent book…a must read for managers who are challenged by the new gamer generation…a definite read for all gamers out there as well, this book will give you insights on how to play up your gaming skills and bring them to the forefront in organizations…to all parents and academicians, reading this book will give you a different perspective on games, gamers, and the gaming culture….